New Orleans • While it is unprecedented for seven former Utah high school or college football players to be on the rosters for Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII, having Hill Air Force Base represented in the game is even more unusual.
Two years removed from Hill's 421st "Black Widows" fighter squadron, receiver Chad Hall is a candidate for the 49ers' game-day active roster. A former Air Force Academy star, Hall was activated for the NFC Championship game and made a brief appearance against Atlanta after being signed to the practice squad in December.
Hall was stationed at Hill from 2008-10, helping maintain a 28-plane fleet of F-16s. "Met some great friends, got some great work experience, and it really helped me grow up," he said Wednesday.
The 12-hour workdays meant Hall would "literally work, train and sleep, two straight years" while preparing for an NFL opportunity. Philadelphia signed him after he participated in the University of Utah's Pro Day, and he played in 15 games over two seasons, catching 14 passes.
When the Eagles wanted to make him a practice-squad player in 2012, he chose to wait for a call that finally came from the 49ers.
Dave Scholz could have been spending this week in New Orleans, helping the 49ers prepare for the Super Bowl. Instead, he became Utah State's strength and conditioning coach last week and immediately went to work in Logan.
"It was a great opportunity for him, and if it's something you want to do, you've got to go do it," said Mark Uyeyama, the 49ers' strength coach and Scholz's former boss. "I encouraged it, and he'll be a great fit and a tremendous asset to that program."
Uyeyama held that position at USU before joining the 49ers' staff; he also worked at Utah.
Two former USU assistant football coaches are in the Super Bowl. Wade Harman, an ex-Aggie linebacker, coaches Baltimore's tight ends, with the distinction of being the only holdover from the Ravens' championship staff of the 2000 season. Tracy Smith, San Francisco's assistant special teams coach, worked with USU's tight ends under Brent Guy from 2006-08. "I loved my time there … a great place to learn how to coach," Smith said.
It is barely an exaggeration to say that 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's news conference answers could fit into tweets. His longest response in a formal setting Wednesday was 60 words. Ray Lewis, the Baltimore player who appeared in front of a full audience, offered a 376-word answer to one question.