NEW ORLEANS -- San Francisco defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois made one of his greatest football memories to date in the Superdome, where he won a national championship with LSU against Ohio State in January 2008.
Jean Francois also was voted MVP of that game, an honor that disrupted his celebration after he had climbed into the stands to see his family.
"They had to get a lot of the guys to grab me out of the stands to bring me back down, but it was a good moment when I got a chance to hold that crystal ball and see that confetti," Jean Francois said.
As it turns out, the 49ers also are staying in the same hotel and using some of the same meeting rooms that LSU used leading up to the Tigers’ BCS triumph.
The memories are not so fond for a couple other 49ers who were in that same title game, but playing for the Buckeyes.
"I don’t want to hear it," linebacker Larry Grant said when asked whether the sight of the Superdome brings back bad memories. "All I’m thinking about is hoisting that Lombardi Trophy in a few days."
Grant said Jean Francois had not said a word to him about the game recently.
"He doesn’t want to bring that up with me," Grant said. "I might slap him in the face."
Niners offensive lineman Alex Boone, also a Buckeye back in 2007-08, said he did have some painful memories come back to him when he walked on the field against the Saints earlier this season. The 49ers won that game, 31-21.
"It was a little weird coming back. I just remember thinking about the championship game and I was happy this (past game against New Orleans) went differently," Boone said. "Hopefully we can have success this Sunday."
Boone acknowledged he somehow gets drawn into conversations with Jean Francois about their college title matchup, even though he has no interest in discussing it.
"We talk about it all the time, surprisingly, because I hate talking about it, but we always end up talking about it once a week," Boone said. "It’s weird."