Jim Harbaugh, in just his second season, has guided the San Francisco 49ers to the verge of another Super Bowl. He'll match wits against older brother John, in his fifth year at the helm for the Baltimore Ravens.
Perhaps you've also heard that it was God's will that future Hall of Famer and previous Super Bowl most valuable player Ray Lewis cap off his career for the Ravens in the big game.
Here, then, some background information and other fun factoids about the upcoming big game.
The championship will pit pivots who played collegiately at Delaware (Joe Flacco, after transferring from Pitt) and Nevada (Colin Kaepernick). It's a matchup of QBs from relatively unheralded programs, but that's not unprecedented. Ben Roethlisberger (Miami of Ohio) and Kurt Warner (Northern Iowa) duelled in one of the most exciting Super Bowls in 2009.
Kaepernick of the 49ers will be making just his ninth career start. Among Super Bowl quarterbacks only Jeff Hostetler (six) and Vince Ferragamo (seven) had fewer, but they each had been in the league three or more seasons. Kaepernick is at the end of his second campaign.
He can become the third separate San Francisco quarterback to lead a Super Bowl win. Other teams with three different Super Bowl winning QBs: Washington, Green Bay, and the New York Giants.
Kaepernick took over when Alex Smith got injured, and coach Jim Harbaugh decided the switch was permanent. There's a pretty substantial history of Super Bowl quarterbacks who weren't the starter during Week 1 but took over due to injury or coach's decision. The list includes Jim Plunkett (Oakland, 1980), Doug Williams (Washington, 1988), Trent Dilfer (Baltimore, 2001) and Tom Brady (New England, 2002).
Should Flacco's team prevail, he will be tied with Warner, Peyton Manning, and Bart Starr for ninth all-time with nine career playoff wins.
First round quarterbacks essentially enter the league with the expectation they'll lead their team to a Super Bowl appearance. Flacco (18th) beat out Atlanta's Matt Ryan (third) to ensure the 2008 first round class is represented. Flacco takes over from Aaron Rodgers (2005) as the most recently drafted Super Bowl quarterback. Jay Cutler of Chicago is seemingly the only hope of 2006's crop (Vince Young, Matt Leinart among the disappointments), while 2007 was a complete gong show (JaMarcus Russell is out of football, Brady Quinn will be lucky next year to retain backup status).
The last time both quarterbacks were marking their first Super Bowl appearance was in 2007 when Peyton Manning and Rex Grossman squared off in rainy Miami. Like this year, that Indianapolis-Chicago contest also pitted first time Super Bowl coaches.
The loser will taste defeat in a Super Bowl for the first time. San Francisco is 5-0 all-time, while Baltimore won its lone appearance in 2001.
San Francisco can move past Dallas and tie Pittsburgh for the most Super Bowl wins ever. Baltimore can become the 12th difference team to win more than once, as 14 other teams still await their first Super Bowl.
The Ravens came into the league in 1997 when then owner Art Modell moved the Browns from Cleveland after an impasse over building a new stadium.
The Browns originally entered the NFL in 1950 along with one other new team … the San Francisco 49ers. Cleveland and San Francisco had plenty of connections: former 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo and team executive Carmen Policy were from near Cleveland, Bill Walsh spent several seasons as an assistant coach under original Cleveland coach and namesake Paul Brown (albeit they were both with the Cincinnati Bengals at the time), and 49ers Hall of Fame tight end Dwight Clark once ran Cleveland's football operations.
As far as notable players who donned the uniform of both the 49ers and Ravens, um, Elvis Grbac?
The following players with 10 or more years of NFL service will be looking to partake in a Super Bowl championship for the first time:
San Francisco: David Akers, Leonard Davis, Brian Jennings, Randy Moss, Justin Smith
Baltimore: Brandon Ayanbadejo, Matt Birk, Anquan Boldin, Kemoeatu, Ma'ake, Bryant McKinnie, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Bobbie Williams
One of San Francisco's previous Super Bowl victories came at the Superdome (1990's 55-10 destruction of Denver), which is the site for the seventh time dating back to 1978.
The loser has scored exactly 10 points in four of the six previous Superdome contests. Average margin of victory in the six games was a whopping 22 points thanks to blowouts conducted by arguably the two greatest teams of all time, the 1989 San Francisco 49ers and the 1985 Chicago Bears.
The last Super Bowl played in New Orleans, however, was the razor-thin 20-17 New England victory over St. Louis in 2002.Suggest a correction