Only one former Cal player has a chance to play in the Feb. 7 Super Bowl, and the possibility of that player getting in the game appears to be slim.
Kansas City Chiefs right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has not played since leaving the October 19 game against Buffalo with a back injury. He remains on injured reserve, and each week questions arise as to whether he will be ready to play.
It’s possible he’ll be ready to go in 12 days’ time, but coach Andy Reid’s comments on Monday suggest it is not likely.
“I can’t tell you I’m that optimistic about it,” Reid said, according to the Kansas City Star.
Nonetheless, Reid did not rule Schwartz out for the game, and the Chiefs need help on the offensive line after left tackle Eric Fisher tore his Achilles tendon during Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
Schwartz played every offensive snap in the Chiefs’ three-game playoff run to the NFL title last year, including all 79 offensive plays in the Super Bowl. And Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade of any player in last year’s postseason, just ahead of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa.
However, this year’s Super Bowl is likely to be the 13th straight game Schwartz will miss, which is noteworthy for a player who had demonstrated historic durability throughout his football career.
Before sitting out the October 25 game against Denver, Schwartz had started every game in his football career -- high school, college and NFL.
He started every game for which he was eligible at Palisades Charter High School, then started all 51 games during his active college career at Cal from 2008 through 2011.
A second-round NFL draft choice of the Browns in 2012, Schwartz started every game in his first eight years in the NFL, and was named All-Pro in 2018. In fact, he played every offensive snap for the Browns and Chiefs before sitting out two plays in the 2019 season. That was a streak of 7,894 consecutive offensive snaps to start his pro career.
He then started the first six games this season to give him 134 consecutive regular-season starts, plus seven postseason starts, for a run of 141 straight starts in the NFL.
That streak ended in the seventh game of this season, an October 25 game against the Broncos. He was a late-week addition to the injury report the previous week because of the back injury suffered during practice. Nonetheless he started the game against the October 19 game against the Bills, but had to leave the game after eight plays. He has not played since.
There is no indication that the 31-year-old Schwartz plans to retire, so presumably he'll be back for his 10th NFL season next fall. But the immediate concern is this year's Super Bowl. The odds are long that he will be able to play against Tampa Bay on Feb. 7, but there is still hope. And the Chiefs will need him against a Buccaneers pass rush that sacked Aaron Rodgers five times in the NFC championship game.
Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53
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