From backup to Super Bowl starter
January, 22, 2013
By Sam Farber | ESPN.com
Hector Amezcua/Sacramento Bee/MCT
Colin Kaepernick isn’t the first quarterback to lead his team to the Super Bowl after starting the season as a backup.
Colin Kaepernick took over as the San Francisco 49ers' starting quarterback in Week 11 after Alex Smith was sidelined with a concussion in the previous week. Since stepping in, Kaepernick has led the Niners to a 7-2 record and their first Super Bowl appearance in nearly 20 years.
He's not the first backup quarterback to lead his team to the Super Bowl after riding the pine early in the season. In fact, Kaepernick will be the sixth quarterback to start a Super Bowl after not starting any of his team's first five games of the same season. The others:
• Terry Bradshaw, 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers:
Bradshaw attempted a pass in just one of Pittsburgh's first six games of the 1974 season, playing behind Joe Gilliam. Bradshaw took over as the starter in Week 7 and went on to lead Pittsburgh to a win in Super Bowl IX, the first of four Super Bowls the Steelers would win in a six-year span.
• Vince Ferragamo, 1979 Los Angeles Rams
Ferragamo made his first start of the season in Week 12 for the Rams after Pat Haden was injured and Jeff Rutledge was benched. Ferragamo led the Rams to six wins in seven games on the way to Super Bowl XIV, where they fell to the Steelers.
• Jim Plunkett, 1980 Oakland Raiders
Plunkett took over after starter Dan Pastorini broke his leg during Week 5. Though Oakland was just 2-3 when Plunkett made his debut, the former Heisman Trophy winner took the Raiders to Super Bowl XV on the strength of nine wins in their final 11 regular-season games. Plunkett took home Super Bowl MVP honors after a 27-10 win over the Eagles.
• Jeff Hostetler, 1990 New York Giants
Hostetler replaced Phil Simms after the Giants star quarterback broke his foot in Week 15. Hostetler, a career backup, had started just two games in four prior NFL seasons. But that didn’t stop him from leading New York to five straight wins overall, including a 20-19 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV.
• Trent Dilfer, 2000 Baltimore Ravens
Dilfer stepped in for Tony Banks in Week 9 after the Ravens' offense was held without a touchdown for four straight weeks. After losing in his first start, Dilfer's Ravens won their final seven regular-season contests and went on to win each of their four postseason games by double digits, including a 34-7 drubbing of the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.