Some 49ers already played for a title in Superdome

By Brett Martel | Associated Press Published:

By Brett Martel | Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- San Francisco defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois made one of his greatest football memories to date in the Superdome, where he won a national championship with LSU against Ohio State in January 2008.

Jean Francois also was voted MVP of that game, an honor that disrupted his celebration after he had climbed into the stands to see his family.

"They had to get a lot of the guys to grab me out of the stands to bring me back down, but it was a good moment when I got a chance to hold that crystal ball and see that confetti," Jean Francois said.

As it turns out, the 49ers also are staying in the same hotel and using some of the same meeting rooms that LSU used leading up to the Tigers' BCS triumph.

The memories are not so fond for a couple other 49ers who were in that same title game, but playing for the Buckeyes.

"I don't want to hear it," linebacker Larry Grant said when asked whether the sight of the Superdome brings back bad memories. "All I'm thinking about is hoisting that Lombardi Trophy in a few days."

Grant said Jean Francois had not said a word to him about the game recently.

"He doesn't want to bring that up with me," Grant said. "I might slap him in the face."

Niners offensive lineman Alex Boone, also a Buckeye back in 2007-08, said he did have some painful memories come back to him when he walked on the field against the Saints earlier this season. The 49ers won that game, 31-21.

"It was a little weird coming back. I just remember thinking about the championship game and I was happy this (past game against New Orleans) went differently," Boone said. "Hopefully we can have success this Sunday."

Boone acknowledged he somehow gets drawn into conversations with Jean Francois about their college title matchup, even though he has no interest in discussing it.

"We talk about it all the time, surprisingly, because I hate talking about it, but we always end up talking about it once a week," Boone said. "It's weird."

FAREWELL, ALEX?

Alex Smith leaving the San Francisco 49ers after this season is a topic CEO Jed York isn't ready to address.

York made one thing clear Thursday: Smith hasn't requested his release after the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick lost his starting job to Colin Kaepernick.

Smith certainly hopes to remain a starter somewhere, and that doesn't seem likely anymore with San Francisco, his only NFL team.

While the 49ers would love to have two winning QBs, York realizes that might not be a realistic luxury as far as Smith is concerned.

"Alex and I started with the 49ers the same year in 2005 and I've known Alex for a long time. And that's part of the overall analysis you do at the end of the season, not just for one player but for everybody," York said.

"And you figure out what's best for guys, what's best for the team, and you figure out. Is there a spot for him on the team from a cap standpoint? Yeah, absolutely there's a spot for him on the team. From a need standpoint, it's pretty nice to have two quarterbacks that you feel that you can win with. Is there going to be a demand for a quarterback who's played as well as he had the last couple years? Yeah."

HALL OF FAME OWNERS?

An oddity for this Super Bowl has both teams' former owners as finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The late Art Modell, who owned the Cleveland Browns and then moved them to Baltimore to become the Ravens, and Ed DeBartolo Jr., of the San Francisco 49ers, could enter the hall on Saturday. They are among 15 modern-day finalists, of which as many as five can be elected.

Modell bought the Browns in 1961 and took them to Baltimore in 1996. He was president of the NFL under then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle from 1967-69 and played an instrumental role in negotiating television contracts for the league. Modell contributed to the creation of Monday night football, too.

DeBartolo purchased the 49ers in 1977. Soon, they were winning championships: five Super Bowls in as many tries.

During DeBartolo's tenure, the team made 16 playoff appearances, won 13 division titles and played in 10 conference championship games.

But he also was suspended the 1999 season by the NFL after being found guilty of failing to report a bribe by a government official, a felony. He divested ownership of the 49ers to family members.

"I'm hoping Eddie gets into the hall because any time you can accomplish winning five Super Bowls and what he brought to the game of football, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame," said Jerry Rice, the most accomplished receiver in NFL history and a Canton enshrinee.

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