Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers defensive back, first NIU graduate to make it to Super Bowl since 2009

By James Krause

DeKALB — San Francisco 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward will represent NIU when the team faces the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV Sunday in Miami.

Ward is the first NIU alum to reach and start in the Super Bowl since Ryan Diem did so as an offensive lineman for the Indianapolis Colts. Diem was part of both the 2006 Colts team that beat the Chicago Bears in the big game as well as the 2009 Colts team that lost to the New Orleans Saints.

Ward and his 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers last Sunday 37-20 in the NFC Championship game to clinch the team’s shot at an NFL title. Ward said after the game the focus was quickly turned to the Super Bowl.

“It feels great; it’s bittersweet right now,” Ward said, according to a Jan. 19 article by KNBR Radio. “I understand we did something big that we haven’t [done] in a lot of years but if we’re going to make it this far, I want to win the whole thing, so that’s why I said it’s bittersweet.”

The season was off to a rocky start for Ward, who suffered a broken collarbone in spring training and then a broken hand prior to the start of the regular season.

After missing the three opening games of the year, Ward started the following 13 games and finished the season with 60 tackles and a sack. In the two 49ers postseason games, Ward has a combined seven tackles and has played every defensive snap.

Ward is an unrestricted free agent after the game Sunday, making the Super Bowl his potential final game with the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

The 49ers are searching for their first Vince Lombardi trophy win since 1995, while the Chiefs will try and end their half century championship drought. 

The game will be broadcast on Fox with kickoff set for 5:30 p.m. local time.