Here are the NFL’s Arizona connections who could make Super Bowl LVII

Jan 27, 2023, 7:00 AM | Updated: 8:41 am
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy throws to a receiver in the first half of an NFL footba...

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy throws to a receiver in the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

(AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

With the Cardinals finishing at a distasteful 4-13 record, there has to be something to root for while you eat your chips and wings throughout the NFL Playoffs and then into Super Bowl Sunday in Arizona.

If you can’t root for the Cardinals, why not root for some players who represent the state of Arizona?

Here are the three remaining connections to the Grand Canyon State – all from the San Francisco 49ers – who have a shot at making Super Bowl LVII, which will be hosted at State Farm Stadium on Feb. 12.

The 49ers beat the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Round with a 19-12 win. The 49ers now head back east to take on the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Round on Sunday at 1 p.m. MST.

49ers QB Brock Purdy – Perry High School

Last performance: Purdy threw for 214 yards and completed 19 of 29 throws in the 49ers’ win over the Cowboys. That was all the 49ers needed in a defensive battle against Dak Prescott and company. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said it’s getting “easier and easier” to call plays for Purdy as each week passes.

The Arizona connection and how he got here: Purdy is from Queen Creek, Ariz., and played varsity football at Perry High School. He led the school to the 6A Division AIA State Championship game in 2016 and 2017, losing 65-28 and 48-42 respectively to Chandler High School. After four years in college at Iowa State, he was dubbed “Mr. Irrelevant” after being the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

After 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a foot injury in the first quarter of their Week 13 matchup vs. the Dolphins, Purdy, the backup, came in and never looked back. In five starts to finish the season, Purdy and the 49ers went 5-0, in which he threw for 1,098 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Purdy will look to be the first Arizona-tied quarterback since Arizona Wildcat product Nick Foles (2018) to win the Super Bowl, although this story would speak much more volumes.

49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk – Arizona State

Last performance: Aiyuk had a pretty quiet game, recording two catches for 26 yards on four targets in the NFC Divisional Round. In his playoff career, Aiyuk has 14 catches for 234 yards in five games. The red zone target is still looking for his first career postseason touchdown.

The Arizona connection and how he got here: Aiyuk spent the first two seasons of his collegiate football career at Sierra College in his hometown of Rocklin, Calif., before transferring to Arizona State. As a Sun Devil, Aiyuk was a Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, Special Teams Player of the Week and was named All-Pac-12 as both a wide receiver and return specialist during his senior season.

He was then selected with the 25th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Since making his NFL debut, Aiyuk has implemented himself as a main offensive weapon for the 49ers. In his first three seasons, he has 194 receptions, 2,589 yards and 18 touchdowns.

49ers OLB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles – Mountain View High School/Arizona Wildcats

Last performance: Flannigan-Fowles had one tackle in the 49ers’ win.

The Arizona connection and how he got here: Flannigan-Fowles was born in Tucson, Ariz., and went to Mountain View High School (Tucson).

He would stay in Tucson to play for the Arizona Wildcats for four seasons, appearing in 50 games. On May 3, 2019, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the 49ers and has been with them ever since. He has played snaps on special teams and defense throughout his time in the Bay.

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