ASU standout headed to Super Bowl
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Daniel Kilgore is living the dream that kids all over America imagine.
Kilgore's dream of playing in a Super Bowl came true Sunday when his San Francisco 49ers beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24. Kilgore, the former Appalachian State offensive tackle, is a center and guard with the 49ers.
Kids aren't the only people who dream of playing in a Super Bowl. Several NFL players, including members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, don't get to play in a Super Bowl.
Kilgore got there in his second season in the NFL, both with the 49ers. He was a fifth-round draft choice by the 49ers in 2011.
"When you're in high school or in college, you don't really predict to be in a Super Bowl," Kilgore said in a phone conversation. "It's always a dream to be a part of it, but to actually be a part of it and to fulfill the dream is really unreal. It's so exciting for my family and myself and the team."
Kilgore will be just the second Appalachian State player to participate in a Super Bowl. Former ASU safety Matt Stevens played for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI played in 2002 following the 2001 season. New England beat the St. Louis Rams 20-17.
Two other former Mountaineers were on Super Bowl rosters, but were not active for the game. Running back John Settle was a member of the Washington Redskins that won Super Bowl XXVI following the 1991 season.
Former ASU receiver Daniel Wilcox was on the 53-man roster of the Tampa Bay Bucs, who beat the Oakland Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003. Wilcox, who was a tight end for the Bucs, was inactive for the game.
Kilgore will be active in Super Bowl XLVII. He is the backup center and the top backup to both guard positions for the 49ers.
He also plays on all of the 49ers' special teams. He's played in all 18 of the 49ers' games this season. Kilgore said the magnitude of the game has not completely sunk in with the ASU grad.
"It has not really sunk in yet," Kilgore said. "It probably won't sink in. The biggest thing is we have another game to play. It's another opportunity for this team and this organization to step up again. As far as it sinking in, it's just another game. It really is."
Kilgore played his prep football at Dobyns-Bennett in Kingsport, Tenn. He played tackle at Appalachian State where he was a starting right guard in 2008 and the starting right tackle in 2009-10.
As a redshirt freshman playing as a blocking tight end, Kilgore recovered a fumble in the end zone in the Mountaineers' 49-21 victory over Delaware in ASU's national championship victory.
There are parallels to the Mountaineers' win over Delaware. That victory gave Appalachian State its third straight Division I-AA/Football Championship Subdivision national championship.
But nothing in American sports can match the hype and spectacle of a Super Bowl. The first Super Bowl game, a 35-10 Green Bay Packers win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Los Angeles in 1967, did not even sell out.
Tickets for the 49ers' game with the Ravens in two weeks are already selling for a little more than $2,200 on StubHub.com. Tickets on the 50-yard line are selling for more than $7,200.
To Kilgore, the game is not about the hype or the price of tickets. It's about blocking and tackling.
"You can call my bluff from outside the sidelines and the huddle, but between the hash marks it's still the same people and the same team," Kilgore said. "It's going to be the same offense and the same defense and the same special teams. It's just another game. A lot of people don't understand that, but from my perspective, it's just another game for us to win."
The 49ers were painfully close to reaching the Super Bowl in 2012, but saw their season end with an unexpected loss to the New York Giants in the NFC championship game. The Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Kilgore said the 49ers were determined not to let that happen again.
"Last January, we said that if we had a chance to be where we were again, we were never going to lose," he said. "It's hard to explain what this team has gone through. This team is way different than last year's."
The most notable change in the 2012 edition is at quarterback, where second-year man Colin Kaepernick took over the San Francisco offense midway through the season. Kaepernick brings an extra dynamic to the 49ers offense with his accurate arm and his ability to make big plays by running the ball.
Kaepernick set an NFL record for yards gained by a quarterback in a single game -- playoffs or otherwise -- when he rushed for 181 yards in a 45-31 victory over Green Bay.
Kaepernick drew a comparison to former Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards, who Kilgore blocked for from 2007-09. Edwards, a receiver with the Carolina Panthers, had the ability to make big plays for the Mountaineers much in the same way Kaepernick makes big plays for the 49ers.
"From where I was at Appalachian State, (it's similar) with Armanti running all over the place scrambling or doing whatever it takes to get yards," Kilgore said. "With Kaepernick, his throwing ability and his accuracy and his speed on the ball, with everything he presents to the table, it's unbelievable. To see him grow at the beginning to where he is not -- it's great to see him."
Kilgore said he has not been inundated with ticket requests just yet. There are more important things to do, such as finding a way to beat the Ravens.