The matchup is now set for Super Bowl LIV, which will feature the Kansas City Chiefs versus the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. The game will be played in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami and broadcast on FOX.
As we all know, the Jacksonville Jaguars have never made a Super Bowl (and who knows if the franchise ever will in our lifetimes). So around this time, all we can do as Jaguars fan is live vicariously through others, which leads me to this article.
Looking at the rosters for both Super Bowl teams, we can see a few players who are former Jaguars. A couple of these “castoffs” even have opportunities to play and contribute on the sport’s biggest stage.
Here they are:
Sheldon Day, San Francisco 49ers, defensive tackle
Sheldon Day was originally selected by Jacksonville in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft (No. 103 overall) out of Notre Dame. He played in all 16 games as a rookie, and recorded two sacks and five tackles for loss in 22 total games with the Jags before being released by the team in mid-November of 2017. The 49ers then claimed Day, who was familiar with San Francisco’s defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh, who was formerly Jacksonville’s linebackers coach.
Counting the playoffs, Day has now played in 36 games for the 49ers, including four starts this season. In total, he has recorded 55 total tackles, including 15 tackles for loss, as well as six sacks, four passes defended and 10 quarterback hits in a rotational role. Day figures to contribute in the Super Bowl game, as he has started both playoff games and played in at least 35 percent of snaps in each, as San Francisco relies on its defensive line rotation.
Blake Bell, Kansas City Chiefs, tight end
Ironically, Bell was actually drafted by San Francisco in 2015 out of Oklahoma (fourth round), so he will now get a chance to face off with his former team in the Super Bowl. Back to the Jaguars, Bell signed with Jacksonville in October 2018, as tight end was a huge position of need for the team. He didn’t contribute a whole lot in the passing game, but played in 10 games with four starts, and caught eight balls for 67 yards, with zero touchdowns and three first down grabs. The Jags moved on from him after the season, and he signed with the Chiefs in April 2019.
It turns out playing with Patrick Mahomes is the same as playing with Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler. Just kidding, Mahomes is obviously an astronomical upgrade (understatement), but Bell (amazingly) had the exact same stat line in the regular season this year — eight catches for 67 scoreless yards with three first downs — as he did last year. Bell scored his first career touchdown in the AFC Divisional Round game against the Houston Texans — an eight-yard strike from Mahomes. Bell will likely get some run in the Super Bowl, as he has played at least 44 percent of the snaps in both playoffs game thus far.
Stefen Wisniewski, Kansas City Chiefs, offensive guard/center
Wisniewski lasted just one season in Jacksonville in 2015, but he started every game for the team that year. The Jaguars went just 5-11 that season, and Wisniewski was OK, posting a 73.7 Pro Football Focus grade and allowing just two sacks, but Jacksonville did not renew his contract in the offseason. The longtime NFL veteran has bounced around a bit, playing for Oakland, Jacksonville, Philadelphia and now Kansas City, but has seemed to find his role with the Chiefs.
Wisniewski played in 11 games with two starts in the 2019 regular season. He has actually started both playoff games at left guard, filling in for the injured Andrew Wylie. So if Wylie is unable to go again, Wisniewski gets to start the Super Bowl. He should see at least a few snaps either way as he rotates in. This marks Wisniewski’s second Super Bowl appearance, as he served as the starting left guard for the Eagles in Super Bowl LII, which his team won.
Chad Henne, Kansas City Chiefs, quarterback
Of course, Chad Henne was with the Jaguars for five seasons, playing in 31 games with 22 starts in Duval. He won just five of those starts and threw for 5,817 yards, with 27 touchdowns against 26 interceptions. He was eventually benched for Blake Bortles. Jacksonville let Henne walk after the 2017 season, and he signed with the Chiefs in March of 2018.
Henne is yet to appear in a game for the Chiefs in 2019, but was activated for the first time last week to backup Mahomes in the AFC Championship game, as fellow backup Matt Moore was out with an illness. There’s a good chance that Henne will be inactive for the Super Bowl game if Moore returns, but let’s be honest, if either one of those two are playing then the Chiefs are likely in trouble. Still, it would be nice to see Henne get a ring.
From my research, the only coach on either staff that has spent time with the Jaguars is the aforementioned Saleh. Saleh coached linebackers in Jacksonville under Gus Bradley from 2014 through 2016. In 2016, Saleh helped lead a defense that ranked sixth in total yards allowed and fifth against the pass. Prior to their stints in Jacksonville, both Saleh and Bradley were on the Seattle Seahawks defensive staff. Saleh helped coach the Seahawks to a win in Super Bowl XLVIII.
This year as defensive coordinator for the 49ers, Saleh led the No. 1 ranked passing defense and No. 2 defense overall. He is a strong candidate to become a future head coach.
There you have it. Others will be playing in the Super Bowl, and the Jaguars will not be...again. Let me know if I missed anybody!