The Detroit Lions have never made a Super Bowl, but plenty of folks back home in Michigan will have a chance at significant rooting interests in the game this year.
Detroit’s ties to this year’s big game run deep on one side, and it’s that of the San Francisco 49ers. Not only do the Lions have plenty of former players and executives that will be heading to Miami, there is also many connections to the state as well.
First, a look at the former Lions players, coaches and executives who will be making the trip. The Lions have several former players who will have a shot at a ring, including former draft picks Anthony Zettel and Teez Tabor. Additionally, former Lions first round pick Laken Tomlinson has been a big addition to the San Francisco front, and Levine Toilolo is in the tight end room there as well.
Perhaps the best known executive in the mix is Martin Mayhew, Detroit’s former general manager who was run out of town in 2015. Kris Kocurek has done solid work with the San Francisco defensive line just like he did for years in Detroit, and could be poised to bring home a ring as well.
Obviously, this fact might not endear many on the Detroit side to the San Francisco cause, considering some of those players, coaches and executives were big lightning rods during their time in the Motor City. Still, many have managed to escape and are poised to perhaps win big at the next level after winning a pair of playoff games.
Clearly, San Francisco was the place to go in order to get over a Lions hangover.
Michigan Ties to 49ers in Super Bowl
Even though a few of these other guys have never coached or played for the Lions, they have ties to the state which run deeply.
Joe Staley, an offensive lineman for the 49ers, went to Central Michigan and hails from Rockford. Additionally, San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is from Dearborn, worked at Central Michigan and Michigan State and has deep ties to the state as a result.
For those looking for a Chiefs connection, Eric Fisher is also from Central Michigan and went to Stoney Creek High School before being one of the top picks in the NFL Draft.
No matter which way you look, there is a connection to the Lions or Michigan in the Super Bowl, and most are on the side of San Francisco.
Why Lions Fans Should Cheer on 49ers
Though many Detroit fans likely won’t let bygones be bygones with several of the players, executives and coaches they used to have, it’s probably a good time to do just that. San Francisco offers Detroit hope that one day, the Lions could be in their shoes. Just a year ago, the 49ers were coming off a dreadful 4-12 season, picking high in the draft and looking like they were in trouble from the front office down. Now, they are being celebrated as one of the better up and coming franchises in football. It merely goes to show how quickly things can and do change in football with health, good drafting and savvy executive work.
The Lions have a long way to go before qualifying as such a team, but if San Francisco can put the pieces together and go worst to first, there’s no reason teams in a similar boat can’t put it together to do it too.
Yes, that might even include the Lions one day.