When the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs take the field in their Super Bowl on February 11, there won’t be many local ties to the game. And by local, we mean north of Sacramento.
Of course, one would say that this is a 49er country, So that’s just about all the local ties many people need to have for Sunday’s big game.
One of those is Corning native Matt Maiocco, who is currently at his 12th Super Bowl, covering Sunday’s big game for NBC Sports Bay Area and California.
Maiocco has been covering the 49ers in some capacity since 1995 for newspapers like the Contra Costa Times, the Oakland Tribune, and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Usually, he says that he covers the week of the Super Bowl but returns to the Bay Area on the Friday before the game, but this year, he’s sticking around for the game because the 49ers are in it.
Just like they were four years ago when they lost to the Kansas City Chiefs when the 49ers lost 31-20.
It’s a very different day, not only just for the players but the media who cover the game has a whole different process.
“I get there six hours before game time and just basically go through what I need, “he said. “To go through and find my spot where I’m gonna be sitting in the press box, walking around to where the interview rooms are going to be, to the locker rooms to where. I’ll be doing interviews with players, where I’ll be going live to be on our postgame show,”
He said he likes to go through all that because the one thing he’s learned covering Super Bowls is that something that he may expect to take 15 minutes will take an hour and 15 minutes — so it’s best to be prepared.
So, if the media is treating it like it’s a different day at work, the players certainly are.
He said the players who are most successful are the ones who are able to handle the added pressure of Super Bowl Sunday.
“The ones who have success are the ones who can somehow get to that point where it’s just another game in the sense that they’re able to do it concentrates,” They’re able to do the things that they’ve been taught to do with which to do or what they would do under stressful events. But this is completely different. It’s just unlike anything that these guys have experienced.”
One of those players he mentioned that will be experiencing something he’s never experienced before is 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy.
He said that Purdy usually does a couple of interviews during the normal week of a game, one at the beginning of the week for about 12 minutes and then one after the game.
During Super Bowl week in Las Vegas, he said he’d done some kind of media availability every day.
“So we’re talking basically four days and just a lot of media attention. It’s the same questions over and over,” he said. “So it takes a different, it takes a special kind of guy to be able to handle that.”
One of the keys is also keeping the game as normal as possible for the players. And part of that process actually falls on the training staff of the teams.
Pleasant Valley High native Kevin Murgia was a trainer for the Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl victory in 2021 over the Cincinnati Bengals at Sofi.
For Murgia and the Rams, it was easier to keep things as normal as possible because the game was being played in their hometown in their home stadium. The players and the staff got to stay in the same hotel they stayed in for home games all season.
“I would say that’s one of our biggest responsibilities as a sports medicine staff or even just a sports staff with a team that is to try and normalize it as much as possible, obviously, within sports medicine, a big kind of realm that it continues to grow in within sports and mental health,” he said. “And so I think, from our aspects, outside of our normal job descriptions is being able to keep normal conversations with these guys,”
He said that keeping those conversations as normal as they would during the regular season, talking about life, families, and things like that, would help keep the players more comfortable and make them feel like it’s a normal game.
He said that they did talk about being a Super Bowl Sunday, but those came up in the natural flow of a conversation, and it wasn’t forced.
Murgia, who grew up in Chico, it took him a little bit to really realize what day it was.
“It was definitely surreal. I think it didn’t hit me. Until the national anthem, I think when you look around, and obviously, it was within our home stadium, but to see Super Bowl, plastered everywhere around SoFi stadium,” he said, “And so just look at my co-workers and just see kind of the joy on their face that we had made it that far.”
But there have been a few players who have been to the Super Bowl and played in the big game since its first showing in 1966.
A couple of those local ties even played for the 49ers in the Super Bowl. In total, there have been five players who have appeared in a Super Bowl from Butte and Tehama County. areas.
Local Super Bowl ties:
Wayne Hawkins, Shasta Union High School
Wayne Hawkins, out of Shasta Union High School, was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 1960 and ended up starting 104 games for the Oakland Raiders. He was named to the second team all-pro and played in 5 Pro Bowls in the old American Football League.
In the 1967 season, Hawkins started at right guard for the Raiders and was a second-team all-pro In the AFL. In a 33-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the second Super Bowl, Hawkins returned one kickoff for three yards.
Bob Grim, Red Bluff
Grim played 10 seasons in the NFL and was a second-round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings In the 1967 NFL draft. He appeared in two Super Bowls for the Vikings, the first one was Super Bowl IV, a 24-7 loss by the Vikings to the Kansas City Chiefs.
It would be the first four Super Bowl losses for the Vikings, though Grim wouldn’t appear in another one until Super Bowl IV against the Oakland Raiders because Grim was traded by the Vikings to the New York Giants following his Pro Bowl 1971 season.
In 14 games that season, he set career highs with 45 catches for 691 yards and seven touchdowns. He was traded along with quarterback Norm Snead, one other player, and two draft picks for Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who would go on to lead the Vikings to their other three Super Bowl losses.
Ironically enough, in 1967, the Vikings traded Tarkenton to the Giants to get the second overall pick of the draft. They also got the Giants second-round pick, 28th overall, and used that to select Grim.
He would play three seasons for the Giants before playing one year in Cleveland. He spent the last two seasons of his career back in Minnesota, where he appeared in Super Bowl XI.
But he did not catch a pass.
Gale Gilbert, Red Bluff
The former Red Bluff High School and Cal quarterback Gale Gilbert, who started his career in 1985 with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent, went to five Super Bowls, four with the Buffalo Bills and one with the San Diego Chargers.
In fact, all five of those Super Bowls were in consecutive years, and he is the only player in NFL history to have been to five straight Super Bowls as a player. However, he just appeared in one.
He appeared in 58 NFL games, starting four of them, Two with the Seattle Seahawks in 1986 and two with the San Diego Chargers in 1994 and 1995.
most of his NFL appearances were as a holder. However, he did complete 146 passes in 259 attempts for 1544 yards. He threw nine touchdowns with 12 interceptions.
He appeared in one Super Bowl in 1994 against the San Francisco 49ers, where he completed three of six passes for 30 yards. He also threw one interception.
The 49ers beat San Diego 49-26 at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami; it was the last Super Bowl victory for the 49ers.
Mike Sherrard Chico High School
A former Chico High standout, Sherrod walked on at UCLA in 1981 and was later drafted in the first round, 18th overall, by the Dallas Cowboys in 1986.
He played in 105 games for four different teams: the Cowboys, the 49ers, the New York Giants, and the Denver Broncos.
He was on the 1989 49ers team that pummeled the Denver Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl 24. He caught one pass for 13 yards in the Super Bowl victory.
The 1989 postseason was his first football action since breaking a leg prior to the 1987 season with the Cowboys. He did not appear in a single game in the 1989 regular season but did appear in three post-season games with the 49ers that year and caught three passes for 34 yards, including the one in the Super Bowl.
In four seasons with the 49ers, he would catch 79 passes from 1167 yards and four touchdowns. In his career, he would catch 257 passes for 3931 yards and haul in 22 touchdowns.
Jeff Stover, Corning High School
Stover played in seven seasons for the 49ers from 1982-1988, starting 25 games and collecting 30 1/2 sacks. He also had three fumble recoveries as a 49er.
Stover played for the 49ers in Super Bowl 19, the 38-16 thumping of the Miami Dolphins.
Larry Allen, Butte College
The Hall of Fame tackle for the Dallas Cowboys won one Super Bowl with the team and It was the last time the Cowboys won a Super Bowl — a 27-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He played two years at Butte College before going on to star at Sonoma State. He played 14 years, 12 of them with the Cowboys and the last two with the 49ers. He was a seven-time all-pro, six of those first teams. He was the second pick for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1994 NFL draft.
Jason Sehorn, Mount Shasta
Sehorn played eight seasons in the NFL for the New York Giants and the St Louis Rams.
He appeared in six playoff games, including Super Bowl 34, a 34-7 loss by the Giants to the Baltimore Ravens. Sehorn had six tackles in the game.
Aaron Rodgers, Pleasant Valley
The only player on this list that is still active is now with the New York Jets. He’s also probably the most accomplished NFL player on this list, with 10 Pro Bowl selections, four MVP Awards, and a Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl XLV.
He was named the MVP in that 31-25 victory for the Green Bay Packers over the Pittsburgh Steelers because the Chico native was 24 of 39 for 304 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Ryan O’Callaghan, Enterprise High School
The former Enterprise High School star played in one Super Bowl for the New England Patriots — and yes, it was that Super Bowl. He appeared in 15 games for the 2007 Patriots, which went 18-1 that year, starting one game — the season finale victory against the New York Giants.