NEW ORLEANS -- When Colin Kaepernick takes the field Sunday for the 49ers he'll become the fourth quarterback in history to start a Super Bowl in his second NFL season. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger was the last to do it in February 2006, when the Steelers beat the Seahawks.
In three playoff games leading up to Super Bowl XL, Roethlisberger completed 49 of 72 passes (68 percent completion percentage) for 680 yards, including 7 TDs (and one rushing TD) and 1 INT, and a passer rating of 148.7, 95.3, and 124.9.
Kaepernick enters the final game of the 2012 season having had plenty of recent success, too. In two postseason games he's 33 of 52 (65 percent) for 496 yards, with 3 TDs and 1 INT, to go along with 202 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs (and passer ratings of 91.2 and 127.7).
|The home of the Super Bowl|
But once Roethlisberger got to the Super Bowl, he looked nothing like the confident young star that played a big role in getting the Steelers to that point. Against Seattle, he completed just 9 of 21 passes (43 percent) for 123 yards, 0 TDs and 2 INTs. In fact, it's fair to say that the Steelers won in spite of Big Ben.
So will Kaepernick, who appears to be playing with all the confidence in the world, suffer a similar fate? Forty-niners backup linebacker Clark Haggans, who also played with Roethlisberger during the 2005 season, isn't worried.
"I don't think [Colin will be nervous]," Haggans told CBSSports.com at Super Bowl media day. "I think it's going to be more excitement. I think it's going to be like that for everybody. With all the hoopla going on, once the ball gets kicked off it's just gonna be football and we still gotta play."
The two other second-year quarterbacks to start a Super Bowl?
* In Jan. 1985, Dan Marino's Dolphins lost to the 49ers, 38-16. Marino was 29 of 50 for 318 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs.
* Seventeen years later, Tom Brady led the upstart Patriots to a 20-17 win over the "Greatest Show on Turf" Rams. Brady finished 16 of 27 for 145 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs.
(Note: Then-28-year-old Kurt Warner was in his second NFL season with the Rams when they defeated the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV, 23-16. But we're not including him here because a) he was in Packers' training camp in 1994, and b) he had honed his game in the the Arena League and NFL Europe in the intervening three-plus years.)
Roethlisberger admitted to being nervous during that first Super Bowl appearance, a topic Kaepernick has been asked about since the 49ers arrived in New Orleans.
“I've said this before: Pressure, I feel like, comes from lack of preparation," he said Sunday. "This isn't going to be a pressure situation, it is going to be a matter of going out there and performing physically.”
The subejct came up again Tuesday at media day.
“Just because you're in a situation you haven't been in before doesn't mean you have to feel pressure from it," Kaepernick said, who also attributed his on-field demeanor to his faith. “[God] is always someone I lean on. My faith is something that always keeps my feet on the ground and makes me level-headed.”
And that led to the inevitable question of who God would be rooting for Sunday.
“I think God watches over everybody," Kaepernick said. "I don't think he's cheering for one team or another. I think he's helping everybody, just trying to keep everybody safe. He has a plan for everyone.”
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the Pick-6 Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.