As the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers in Las Vegas this Sunday, it may seem that New Jersey has no relevance to the game, however, the Garden State’s connection to the Big Game is much greater than meets the eye.
For the Chiefs, their NJ representative is running back Isiah Pacheco, who was born and raised in Vineland, New Jersey. Pacheco chose to stay true to his roots and attended Rutgers for 4 years, where he would accumulate over 2400 rushing yards, good enough to land him at 7th in the school’s all-time rushing list.
Coming out of college, Pacheco wasn’t very highly recruited, but still made his way to the NFL, being selected with the 251st pick by the Kansas City Chiefs. Pacheco has made all 29 teams that passed on him regret it, as he has already racked up more than 1700 yards and 14 total touchdowns in just 2 years.
Most impressively, Pacheco is already a champion and has been to the Big Game twice, despite only being in the league for 2 years. Pacheco tallied 76 rushing yards and a touchdown in their matchup vs the Eagles last year and is looking to improve upon his performance this year.
For the 49ers, both defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and safety Logan Ryan attended Rutgers in their college years, but only Logan Ryan is a native of NJ. Born in Berlin, Ryan attended Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees.
Similarly to Pacheco, Ryan stayed close to home, attending Rutgers for 3 years, from 2010 to 2012, forgoing his senior year to declare for the NFL Draft. Ryan would go on to be drafted by the New England Patriots with the 83rd pick, where he would stay for 4 years, winning 2 championships in the process.
Ryan would proceed to have stints with the Titans, his home state Giants and the Buccaneers before landing with the 49ers this season.
As both players work towards adding another ring to their collection, it is important to remember where they both got their start; the Garden State.