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Super Bowl: Ravens’ Paul Kruger leads players with Utah ties

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Baltimore Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger (99) sacks San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) as defensive end Pernell McPhee (90) helps in the first quarter of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

By kurt kragthorpe

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Feb 04 2013 12:29AM
Updated May 21, 2013 11:31PM

New Orleans • In a game the Baltimore Ravens won by three points, holding San Francisco to two field goals in the first half proved critical.

The 49ers can blame Paul Kruger. Both of the former University of Utah star’s sacks came on third-down plays, forcing the 49ers to settle for field goals in Baltimore’s 34-31 victory in Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII at the Superdome.

After lining up on the left side, Kruger quickly blasted his way into the backfield and took down Kaepernick for a 10-yard sack on a play that started at the Baltimore 8-yard line on San Francisco’s second drive. He celebrated by swinging his arms, pretending to conduct an orchestra.

"That’s just what came to mind," he said.

On the final possession of the first half, the 49ers reached the Baltimore 9 before Kaepernick rolled to his right and had to duck under Kruger, who officially was credited with a sack for no gain.

Former Ute defensive lineman Manny Fernandez recorded a total of three sacks in three Super Bowls for Miami in the 1970s, leaving Kruger something to shoot for in his next appearance. That may or may not come with Baltimore, as he’s becoming a free agent following his fourth NFL season. Kruger recorded 4.5 sacks in four playoff games and 13.5 sacks in 20 games, counting the regular season.

"We had to fight for everything we got," Kruger said. "Nothing was given to us, and we played in so many tough games like that."

Kruger, a quarterback at Timpanogos High School, and defensive lineman Haloti Ngata of Highland became the first pair of former Utah prep athletes to team up for a Super Bowl winner. Ngata made two tackles before spraining his knee in the third quarter and spending the rest of the game in the locker room.

"I’m just happy that they were able to finish off without me out there," Ngata said.

Counting a loss for East’s Will Tukuafu, a 49ers defensive lineman, Utah preps now have a collective 6-20 record in Super Bowls.

Former Utah quarterback Alex Smith likely concluded his 49ers tenure without appearing in a playoff game this season, resulting from Colin Kaepernick’s emergence.

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