Coach Jim Harbaugh talked about the Super Bowl being a "blessing and a curse," the latter because of his ties to the 49ers upcoming opponent, the Baltimore Ravens.
Just how deep those ties are can be found in a box score from Dec. 13, 1998. The quarterback for the Ravens that day was none other than Jim Harbaugh, with the starting middle linebacker Ray Lewis.
What's more, the Ravens opponent that day featured a player in the midst of one of the greatest rookie seasons ever for a wide receiver. His name? Randy Moss, now coached by Harbaugh.
"(I have) great respect for their organization," Harbaugh said Monday. "I worked with (general manager) Ozzie Newsome and (former owner) Art Modell. ... I know many of the Baltimore Ravens players and have great respect for them and their team. I'm happy for them."
In the game in question more than 14 years ago, Harbaugh staked the Ravens to a 14-6, first-quarter lead, before the Vikings responded with 29 unanswered points.
Harbaugh cut the Vikings' lead to 35-20 with a touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, but Minnesota held on for a 38-28 win.
Overall, Harbaugh completed 16 of 26 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown. He had one of his passes intercepted. Harbaugh posted an 84.1 passer rating, slightly higher than the 81.2 recorded by counterpart Randall Cunningham.
Moss caught six passes for 89 yards that day, including a 17-yard touchdown that extended the Vikings' lead to 22-14 early in the second quarter.
By season's end, Moss caught 69 passes for 1,313 and 17 touchdowns in helping the Vikings post a 15-1 record and advance to the NFC Championship Game.
Lewis, in his third NFL season, finished with 15 tackles, more than twice what any other player totaled in the game.
Coincidentally, Lewis' final NFL game will be the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, against a team coached by his one-time teammate.
The Lewis-Harbaugh ties date to 1996, when Lewis notched his first sack against Harbaugh.
Harbaugh was asked about that play Jan. 7, as the 49ers prepared for their first playoff game.
"My dad told me," Harbaugh said. "I didn't know that 'til, oh, three or four days ago. My dad called me up to say that he was in Baltimore and some of the writers there mentioned it to him. My legend grows. Ray Lewis' first sack."