Former Hawkeyes set to battle for the Lombardi Trophy

Both teams competing in Super Bowl LIV have multiple former Iowa players on their roster.


Iowa tight end George Kittle celebrates a touchdown during the Iowa-Iowa State game at Kinnick on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Iowa head Iowa State to one field goal to defeated them, 42-3.

Robert Read, Sports Editor

The state of Iowa will be split this Super Bowl Sunday.

Five former Hawkeyes will be in Miami when the San Francisco 49ers battle the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. 

Both teams have two Iowa players on their roster, while the 49ers also sport one on their practice squad.

No matter the winner of the NFL’s biggest game, a former Hawkeye will walk away with a Super Bowl ring and the Lombardi Trophy. Now, it’s just a matter of which team — and what Iowa players — will come out on top.

George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers

A fifth round draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Kittle has burst onto the scene the past two seasons on his way to becoming known as “the people’s tight end.”

Kittle combines his elite ability to run after the catch with his devastating blocking to be maybe the best player at his position in the league. Last season, Kittle set the single season record for most receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377.

Kittle is a two-time Pro Bowler and was named First-Team All-Pro after the 2019 season.

Since the 2017 season, Kittle has registered 216 receptions for 2,945 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 2,945 receiving yards are the most by a tight end through his first three seasons in NFL history.

Kittle’s impact on the Super Bowl extends to off of the field, as well.

With the help of the USAA and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Kittle is bringing the wife and 16-year-old son of an Army Sergeant Martin LaMar to Miami to attend the game. LaMar was shot and killed on his second tour of duty in Iraq in 2011. 

C.J. Beathard – San Francisco 49ers

Beathard, like Kittle, was also selected in the 2017 NFL Draft by the 49ers. He was a third round selection by San Francisco.

In his time with the 49ers, Beathard has started 10 games and appeared in 13. In his professional career, Beathard has thrown for 2,682 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard avoids several Iowa State tackles during the Iowa-Iowa State game at Kinnick on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Iowa head Iowa State to one field goal to defeated them, 42-3.

At Iowa, Beathard started 28 games and finished with 5,562 passing yards and 40 touchdowns. With the Hawkeyes in 2015, he was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and was named a captain. Beathard also earned Second-Team All-Big Ten that season, as Iowa finished the regular season with a 12-0 record.

Beathard sits behind 49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on the depth chart.

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Ross Reynolds – San Francisco 49ers 

Reynolds is a member of San Francisco’s practice squad. He played at Iowa from 2014-18 and was a Second-Team All-Big Ten performer his senior season at left guard.

The Waukee, Iowa, native is a rookie and was picked up by the 49ers as an undrafted free agent last offseason.

Anthony Hitchens – Kansas City Chiefs

The sixth-year linebacker is in his second season with the Chiefs.

Hitchens was drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He started 48 games for the Cowboys and accumulated 304 tackles and 21 tackles for loss over four seasons.

The Daily Iowan
Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens tackles Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer out from the end zone during the second half of the game at Memorial Field in Bloomington, Indiana on Saturday, November 3, 2012. Indiana beat Iowa 24-21. (The Daily Iowan/Ian Servin)

Hitchens signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Chiefs before the 2018 season, making him among the highest paid players at his position. He led Kansas City with 135 tackles in 2018 and started 15 games for the Chiefs this past season. He also tallied 88 tackles and four tackles for loss.

At Iowa, Hitchens was a Second-Team All-Big Ten performer and recorded 270 tackles over his four-year career.

As a linebacker, Hitchens will have some responsibility in covering his former teammate, Kittle. 

Ben Niemann – Kansas City Chiefs 

Niemann, a second-year linebacker, is also in his second season with the organization. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in the 2018 season and signed with Kansas City.

Niemann made his first start in the NFL on Nov. 11, 2018, against the Arizona Cardinals. He played right inside linebacker for the Chiefs.

At Iowa, Niemann was a Coaches Appreciation Award recipient and was an honorable mention for All-Big Ten.

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