Super Bowl champion and Valencia High School graduate Shane Vereen did a little bit of everything for the New England Patriots in their 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX in 2015.
The seven-year NFL running back finished the contest with a game-high 11 catches and 64 yards, including four rushes for 13 yards.
In an interview with Good Morning Football ahead of the San Franciso 49ers Super Bowl LIV matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Vereen shared some insight on what it was like preparing for and playing in the Super Bowl, along with what he thought would be the biggest factors in a win.
Vereen was a three-year varsity starter at Valencia from 2004-06 and finished with 3,927 career rushing yards on 488 carries and 90 touchdowns, 72 of which were rushing, in 36 games played.
The most important thing to Vereen was team unity and how the team responded in the face of adversity, as he explains.
“You can accomplish great things if you stick together as a team, regardless when the chips are up or when the chips are down,” Vereen said. “We were going up against the best defense football had seen in a matter of years. We had to fight. We were down 10 in the fourth, I remember putting together two drives back-to-back to go down and score a touchdown which put us up four. But at the end of the day, it took a Malcolm Butler interception to seal the deal for us.”
Vereen, who was a teammate of current San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garropolo in New England from 2014-16, shared just what type of teammate Garropolo was and all the knowledge that he acquired sitting and learning behind a six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.
“He was great to be around,” Vereen said of Garropolo. “He was one of the locker room guys that fit in as soon as he got there. Coming into this game for ‘Jimmy G’, he sat behind Tom (Brady) for three Super Bowls, so I think he has the advantage in knowing how to prepare for a game of this magnitude, how to handle himself and how to come in and be relaxed and play football.”
Garropolo went on to finish with 219 yards on 20-of-31 pass attempts for a touchdown and two interceptions in a 31-20 loss to the Chiefs, but Vereen’s prediction about what running back would have more of an impact came true.
“I think the most important running back will be (Damien) Williams for the Chiefs,” Vereen said. “I think his play, he’s going to be the ‘X’ factor. There’s so much attention on Patrick Mahomes and the passing game, I think if he is able to make a name for himself in this game it gives the Chiefs such an advantage going forward.”
Williams finished with 104 rushing yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. He added four receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown.