With a 5-11 record in the regular season, the Cardinals were a far cry from making it to the Big Easy for Super Bowl XLVII. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of ties to Arizona on both the 49ers and Ravens’ sidelines come Sunday afternoon.
Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin:
For seven seasons, Boldin torched opposing secondaries in Arizona. Boldin was selected by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2003 draft, and quickly made a name for himself in the Valley. In 2003, Boldin was named the Associated Press’ Offensive Rookie of the Year, as he went on to shatter several records including most receptions by a rookie and most receiving yards in an NFL debut.
The former FSU standout made three Pro Bowl appearances for the Cardinals (2003, 2006 and 2008) and was a key offensive component during the team’s Super Bowl run in 2008.
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs:
Suggs never played a game in a Cardinals uniform, but he did plenty in the state during his high school and collegiate career. As a senior at Hamilton High School, Suggs was named both the Gatorade Player of the Year in Arizona and a Parade All-American.
At ASU, his local legend grew, as Suggs sets the NCAA record for sacks in a season (24) in 2002. Suggs finished his Sun Devils career with 163 tackles, 44 sacks, a school-record 65.5 tackles for a loss and 14 forced fumbles. For his efforts in 2002, Suggs was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
For a brief moment it looked as if T-Sizzle would begin his NFL career in Arizona. However, the Cardinals traded down (from the ninth pick to the 17th and 18th pick) in the 2003 NFL draft, and the former ASU linebacker ended up landing in Baltimore with the 10th overall selection.
49ers long snapper/tight end Brian Jennings:
As is the life of most long snappers, Jennings’ impact on Sunday’s game likely won’t be visible on national TV.
But for the longest-tenured player on the 49ers, a trip to the Super Bowl is more than 13 years in the making.
Jennings, a native of Mesa, played his college ball at ASU, and in 32 games had four receptions and a touchdown. He also made nine tackles on special teams for the Sun Devils. While there’s no glory in serving as a backup tight end or long snapper, Jennings was selected by San Francisco in the seventh round of the 2000 draft.
49ers offensive lineman Leonard Davis:
Davis is no longer the lineman he once was, but the former No. 2 overall pick is still utilized in power formations when needed.
In Arizona, Davis never lived up to the potential most thought he had coming out of Texas. However, that might have something to do with former head coach Dennis Green’s decision to move Davis from guard to tackle.
While he started at least 14 games in each of his six seasons with Arizona, it wasn’t until he left in free agency back in 2006 that Davis realized his Pro Bowl potential (made three appearances in 2007, 2008 and 2009 with the Cowboys).
49ers wide receiver Kyle Williams:
Williams will not be active for San Francisco on Super Bowl Sunday, but his contributions to the state of Arizona should not go without mention.
The former Chaparral High School standout moved to Phoenix before his junior season, and had no problem adjusting to life as a Firebird. In 2005-06, Williams was named the Arizona Rebublic’s Big School Player of the Year after he ran for over 1,000 yards and scored 30 total touchdowns.
When he got to Tempe, Williams split time as a wide receiver and kick/punt returner. At ASU, Williams caught 109 career passes for 1,626 yards and 18 touchdowns. As a returner, Williams accumulated a total of 1,477 yards.
He went on to be drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 draft by the 49ers.