Kilgore has eye on Super Bowl
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
As it turned out, the 49ers take on Western Division rival Seattle in the title game, which is Sunday in Seattle. San Francisco reached the championship game after handling the Carolina Panthers 23-10 at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.
Kilgore, the former standout Appalachian State offensive linemen, is aware that his 49ers lost 29-3 at Seattle in the third week of the season. He also knows that the 49ers beat the Seahawks 19-17 later in the year.
Both teams feature stingy defenses and dynamic quarterbacks. Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl last season, but San Francisco lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the big game.
Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to the NFC Western Division championship and the top record in the conference.
The two teams have developed a rivalry that is as intense as any in the NFL.
"That game is always fun because Seattle is such a good rivalry," Kilgore said Sunday. "Going to Seattle is going to be a tough week. We're going to have to have a good week of practice and preparation and do what we did today. We have to execute on offense and our defense will always play like they do."
Kilgore got to be a part of something that many in the NFL never get to do. San Francisco played in the Super Bowl for the first time since the Steve Young era of 1994, but football fans rarely remember who lost the Super Bowl.
Kilgore said the experience of reaching the Super Bowl was "great," but winning it would be better. To get there, the 49ers will have to win their third straight road playoff game at Seattle.
The 49ers won at Green Bay the week before their win in Charlotte. The 49ers won at Atlanta in the 2012 NFC championship game to reach the Super Bowl last season.
"Any time you make it that far, it's a great achievement," Kilgore said. "It (stinks) because you didn't win the Super Bowl, but you go in and experience that and be a part of that was a great experience for me. I don't think anybody's been to a Super Bowl, so it was great. Coming in this year, every playoff game this year we've been on the road. Last year, we went to Atlanta and won the NFC. This year, we've got go to Seattle."
Kilgore said playing in the Super Bowl, or playing and living in San Francisco, hasn't changed him. The Kingsport, Tenn., native lives in an apartment outside of the team's practice facilities in Santa Clara, Calif., but he spends his offseason in Bristol, Tenn.
He has done a handful of "California" things, such as surfing, but that was done while he was in Hawaii. He likes the taste of sushi, but he hasn't completely forgotten his Tennessee roots.
For starters, he wore a checkered shirt, jeans and boots to the game Sunday in a league where the players often travel in expensive suits. He also does not do a lot of the "clubbing" that other players do.
"I'm still the same old guy," Kilgore said. "When I go to a bar, it's a little dive bar. It's nothing too fancy or a club or anything like that. I'm the same guy I was back in Boone, N.C."
Kilgore wears many helmets for the 49ers. His primary position is being the backup center, but he also blocks on kickoffs and field goals.
He also is part of the 49ers' short-yardage package, where he lines up as an h-back. He had one play when he went in motion against the Panthers."
"I've played more tight end and receiver this year than I have at center," he said. "It's a good thing to do because you appreciate the position. The more tools you have in the shed, the better off you are."
As an h-back, he has to report to the official that he's an eligible receiver since his jersey number is 67. He has not touched the football yet, but he holds a small amount of hope that one day, he could be the next William "The Refrigerator" Perry.
"They don't trust me with that yet," Kilgore said. "I'll pitch the idea to them."
Kilgore also holds out hope he can stay in San Francisco once his contract is up at the end of next season. He feels he's learned a lot with the 49ers and would like to get a chance at a starting position along the offensive line.
But that's in the future. A game at Seattle is up first.
"I feel like I'm in a good situation right now," Kilgore said. "I've had three years of learning and for myself, it's time for me to solidify a spot as a starter and next year will be huge for me."