Torrey Smith: Man of the people?
The 49ers wide receiver was in a familiar place Sunday afternoon, Levi’s Stadium, but taking it in from an unfamiliar perspective. Smith was on hand to watch Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers – as a spectator.
“I figured I’d played in one but I’d never, ever probably go to one as a fan,” Smith said. “But it’s so close, it’s convenient, it’s right where you live. Might as well check it out.”
Smith, a Virginia native, said the last NFL game he attended as a fan was a Washington Redskins game while he was in high school. He’s used to pulling right up to the stadium on game days. Sunday, Smith said, he and his wife, Chanel, caught a ride to Levi’s Stadium.
“Traffic wasn’t too bad,” Smith said. “We got dropped off close enough that we could walk. Walking in the herd of people was pretty cool. Saw some Niners fans in there.
“You realize you’re kind of spoiled, you know what I mean? I’m used to being able to get access and stuff. And now it’s like, ‘Hey, you wait out here just like everyone else.’ But it’s pretty cool. It’s different. The fan experience, what you have to do to get in the game, I have so much more respect for them.”
Though the 49ers missed the playoffs this year, they had a sizable contingent at the league’s marquee event. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who Saturday night was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year, was recognized on the field before kickoff. Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, last year’s Payton Award recipient, gave a short speech as Boldin looked on.
San Francisco linebacker Shayne Skov, meanwhile, was working in the broadcast booth – doing color commentary for TV Azteca. Skov, who spent part of his childhood in Guadalajara, Mexico, also did TV work for Spanish-language ESPN Deportes earlier in the week.
That meant Skov had to stand in a long line of media waiting to get into the stadium on Sunday morning and pass through a security check. He, too, took note of his different entry into the game.
“Nothing like walking into the Super Bowl and getting called a sinner and a heathen by protesters ... lolol who let those guys in here,” Skov tweeted.
Before the game, 49ers nose tackle Ian Williams and cornerback Dontae Johnson visited a few tailgating events across the street from Levi’s at the Santa Clara Convention Center, then spent the first half making suite appearances inside the stadium.
Fullback Bruce Miller and running back Kendall Gaskins also were on the premises. Miller posted a photo to Instagram from the stadium of the two players holding grilling tools, with the caption: “Clean sweep in the ultimate bbq challenge!!”
A social media search also found Australian Jarryd Hayne doing his part to drum up Super Bowl interest in his home country, appearing at a viewing party at an entertainment spot in Sydney.
Hosting the NFL’s championship game was not enough to keep the 49ers’ new coach in town, however. According to the Bay Area News Group, Chip Kelly, general manager Trent Baalke and the 49ers’ personnel department were in San Diego holding meetings ahead of the NFL combine later this month.
Smith, though, took the opportunity to watch a Super Bowl from the stands. The receiver, who was a member of the Baltimore Ravens team that beat the 49ers in Super XLVII in 2013, said he had purchased two tickets for Sunday’s game at face value and “was just going to give them to someone, but I couldn’t really find the right person.”
“Plus they said Beyonce was going to perform,” Smith said. “We didn’t get to see her for the halftime show in New Orleans.”