Elbert County’s Mecole Hardman wins it for the Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman takes it in for the win with seconds left in overtime at the Super Bowl in Las Vegas on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. (livestream image)

The Kansas City Chiefs won their second straight Super Bowl and third in the last five seasons, with a 25-22 overtime victory over San Francisco Sunday in Las Vegas.

It was a crushing defeat for the 49ers, which lost their last Super Bowl matchup with the Chiefs, 31-20, in 2020.

While a lot has changed for both teams since then, one constant is that the Georgia Bulldogs were well represented on football’s biggest stage Sunday. Most notably, Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman of Elbert County, Georgia, who caught the winning OT touchdown in Super Bowl 58 to lead the Chiefs to back-to-back titles.

After graduating from Elbert County High, Hardman played for the University of Georgia. He is the only former Bulldog on either team who played in Super Bowl 55 when the Chiefs and 49ers faced off in Miami.

The Chiefs drafted Hardman in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft after three years at Georgia, where he was a big-play threat as both a wideout and return specialist. He was a solid contributor for his first few years in Kansas City before signing with the New York Jets ahead of the 2023 season. His time in New York was short-lived, however, as he was traded back to the Chiefs this past October.

Hardman hails from Bowman. His former high school football team cheered his achievement on social media.

Hardman’s not the only former UGA player to make his home state proud. Here’s a look at some of the others who appeared on Sunday’s roster:

Chris Conley, 49ers wide receiver

Chris Conley graduated from North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia. He is the longest-tenured pro on the list, having been drafted by the Chiefs in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft. Through four years at Georgia, Conley caught 112 passes for 1,938 yards and 20 touchdowns as a frequent target of SEC all-time passing leader Aaron Murray.

Conley’s draft stock surged after a freakish NFL Combine performance, where he wowed scouts with his athleticism and even set the record for highest broad jump at 45 inches, a record that still stands.

Conley played four seasons in Kansas City before stops in Jacksonville, Houston and Tennessee and a very brief Chiefs reunion. He signed with the 49ers in April of 2023 and spent the season on the practice squad before being promoted to the active roster in December.

Charlie Woerner, 49ers tight end

Charlie Woerner, of Tiger, Georgia, graduated from Rabun County High School. He never jumped off the page statistically at Georgia, catching just 34 passes for 376 yards and a touchdown in his four years, but over time, he established himself as one of the best blocking tight ends in the country. His blocking ability got him all the way to the NFL, where he was drafted 190th overall by San Francisco in 2020. Since then, he’s picked up where he left off as a great blocker in a reserve role, this time behind 49ers star tight end George Kittle.

Woerner has only caught 11 passes for 120 yards in his pro career, but he’s played in 65 career games and carved out an important role in San Francisco’s offense. The 49ers have become one of the NFL’s best-rushing teams with superstar running back Christian McCaffrey, and Woerner’s blocking has played no small part in that success.

Malik Herring, Chiefs defensive lineman

Malik Herring graduated from Mary Persons High School in Forsyth, Georgia. He has had arguably the most challenging road to the NFL of anyone on this list. He went undrafted in 2021 after a four-year career at Georgia, in large part due to a torn ACL he suffered while preparing for the Senior Bowl just a few months before the draft.

He was signed by the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent and spent his rookie season recovering from his injury. The following season, Herring made the Chiefs’ active roster and has remained with the team ever since.

Herring made 70 tackles at Georgia, including 11.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. So far in the NFL, he’s appeared in 14 games and recorded seven tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

Herring has done nothing short of claw his way to the league despite not many people giving him a chance.

Robert Beal Jr., 49ers edge rusher

Robert Beal Jr. graduated from Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Georgia. He was a regular contributor on Georgia’s back-to-back national title teams in 2021 and 2022 and was drafted by San Francisco in the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft – just in time for another 49ers Super Bowl run.

Beal led Georgia’s legendary 2021 defense in sacks with six and a half and added another three in 2022. Much of his rookie year with the 49ers was spent dealing with injury, as he was placed on injured reserve in late August and not activated until late November.

Still, he appeared in four games for San Francisco this season and recorded five tackles and his first career sack, coming against Los Angeles Rams quarterback Carson Wentz in week 18.

The Red and Black reporter Bo Underwood contributed to this report

Print Friendly, PDF & Email