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Some 49ers already played for a title in the dome

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Some 49ers already played for a title in the dome

NEW ORLEANS (AP) 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.''

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FAREWELL, ALEX?: Alex Smith leaving the San Francisco 49ers after this season is a topic CEO Jed York isn't ready to address.

York made one thing clear Thursday: Smith hasn't requested his release after the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick lost his starting job to Colin Kaepernick.

Smith certainly hopes to remain a starter somewhere, and that doesn't seem likely anymore with San Francisco, his only NFL team.

While the 49ers would love to have two winning QBs, York realizes that might not be a realistic luxury as far as Smith is concerned.

``Alex and I started with the 49ers the same year in 2005 and I've known Alex for a long time. And that's part of the overall analysis you do at the end of the season, not just for one player but for everybody,'' York said.

``And you figure out what's best for guys, what's best for the team, and you figure out. Is there a spot for him on the team from a cap standpoint? Yeah, absolutely there's a spot for him on the team. From a need standpoint, it's pretty nice to have two quarterbacks that you feel that you can win with. Is there going to be a demand for a quarterback who's played as well as he had the last couple years? Yeah.''

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HALL OF FAME OWNERS? - An oddity for this Super Bowl has both teams' former owners as finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The late Art Modell, who owned the Cleveland Browns and then moved them to Baltimore to become the Ravens, and Ed DeBartolo Jr., of the San Francisco 49ers, could enter the hall on Saturday. They are among 15 modern-day finalists, of which as many as five can be elected.

Modell bought the Browns in 1961 and took them to Baltimore in 1996. He was president of the NFL under then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle from 1967-69 and played an instrumental role in negotiating television contracts for the league. Modell contributed to the creation of Monday night football, too.

``That is always one of those situations that you really try to stay out of, because you don't know how they vote,'' Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis said. ``You can only tell them about the man who I knew myself: a true legend in his own way, a real visionary who changed thousands and thousands of lives. For the impact he's had on this business and what he's done for so many in this business, for me - I am a little biased - I would say, `Why wouldn't he be in the Hall of Fame?'''

DeBartolo purchased the 49ers in 1977. Soon, they were winning championships: five Super Bowls in as many tries.

During DeBartolo's tenure, the team made 16 playoff appearances, won 13 division titles and played in 10 conference championship games.

But he also was suspended the 1999 season by the NFL after being found guilty of failing to report a bribe by a government official, a felony. He divested ownership of the 49ers to family members.

``I'm hoping Eddie gets into the hall because any time you can accomplish winning five Super Bowls and what he brought to the game of football, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,'' said Jerry Rice, the most accomplished receiver in NFL history and a Canton enshrinee. ``I think this society's supposed to be about forgiveness and stuff like that. It's time for Eddie DeBartolo to get into the hall.''

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ADRIAN'S AID: Adrian Peterson believes his quick recovery from major knee surgery is an inspiration not only to his teammates and other football players, but to all athletes. And, especially, to all kids.

Peterson always has prided himself on being in top shape, and attributes his conditioning to coming back less than nine months after the surgery, then nearly setting the NFL rushing record, gaining 2,097 yards in Minnesota's wild-card playoff season.

He wants to make sure the youth of America is in tune with staying fit.

``Me being an athlete, I know how important it is to be active and keep your body in shape, and it is hard to get a kid outside to do that,'' said Peterson, who was in New Orleans to promote Kinect for Xbox 360's affiliation with NFL Play 60 to help kids have fun while achieving healthy, active lifestyles. The program also is designed to fight childhood obesity.

``Get off the couch and get active.''

That's exactly what Peterson said he did during his rehab. He chose the Xbox golf game.

``I played the golf game and that got my body burning,'' he said. ``They have the more active games like the track and the NFL, but the golf, it's different. It's cool and I think kids will like it.''

Peterson also is eager to promote nutrition and a healthy diet. He had a sweet tooth as a child and said he was fortunate that he could simply go outdoors and play sports to work off the calories.

``Kids today definitely get a lot of fast foods in their body and that's not good for you,'' he said. ``And now that I am older, I understand. I want young people to understand they need to eat healthy and be active. They don't have to play football, but they need to do something.''

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SUPER LEMONADE: Donald Driver is making a quick transition from the gridiron to the business world.

The Green Bay Packers' career leading receiver announced his retirement Thursday morning, then helped kids from Junior Achievement sell lemonade at a pop-up stand in the Super Bowl media center.

Not only did Driver help behind the counter, he loaded up four carrying cases and he and his three new friends set out to find customers. Their cases were empty when they returned.

``All the money they've raised will stay here in New Orleans,'' Driver said. ``What they're starting to do is learn how to run their own business, become entrepreneurs by themselves.

``I'm just here to raise as much money so maybe they can open up their own lemonade stand the next couple of years.''

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MUM'S THE WORD: Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti says linebacker Ray Lewis decided to retire after this season several weeks before sharing the news with his team and the rest of the world.

Lewis was working to return from a torn right triceps when coach John Harbaugh told the owner that Lewis wanted to talk to him.

``He just said, `I talked to John and I talked to (general manager) Ozzie Newsome and I'm done after this,''' Bisciotti recalled Thursday. ``We spoke for a few minutes. I just said, mum's the word until you decide to announce it or tell the team. That lasted, I think, a month.''

The formal announcement from Lewis came on Jan. 2. He has resolved to make the Super Bowl his final game.

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$100 MILLION FOR HARVARD: The NFL Players Association discussed the $100 million medical research fund it is establishing at Harvard, with the money coming out of the players' portion of league revenues from the collective bargaining agreement.

About 1,000 former players are expected to be involved in the research, which will focus on repetitive brain trauma, aging and cardiovascular disease, medical ethics and sports medicine.

``What we're going to do is transformative,'' NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth said at a news conference Thursday.

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AP Sports Writers Nancy Armour, David Ginsburg, Howard Fendrich, Janie McCauley and Barry Wilner contributed to this report.

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Will Suggs still be an impact player when he comes off PUP?

Will Suggs still be an impact player when he comes off PUP?

Clifton Brown and Bo Smolka are taking turns putting 25 key Ravens under the microscope leading up to veterans reporting to training camp. They’ll speculate on a best-case, worst-case scenario for at least one player every day, concluding with quarterback Joe Flacco on July 25.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Terrell Suggs, 33-year-old outside linebacker

Best-case scenario:

Suggs makes a full recovery from Achilles injury and returns as a double-digit sack artist and three-down linebacker.

Why it could happen:

Suggs knows people are wondering how much quality football he has left. It’s dangerous to write off great players too soon. Suggs would love to silence skeptics with a strong season, and if some of the young Ravens pass rushers develop, they won’t have to overwork Suggs. If he stays healthy once he comes off the PUP list, a player with Suggs’ talent and experience can still be a valuable defensive leader.

Worst-case scenario:

The Achilles injury limits what Suggs can do, and he is no longer an impact player.

Why it could happen:

It’s asking a lot of Suggs to remain a cog in the Ravens’ defense, after 106 ½ career sacks, and entering his 14th NFL season. Sooner or later, the NFL road will end for Suggs, just like it ended for his former great defensive teammates like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. It will be interesting to hear Suggs’ thoughts on his career when he meets with the media Wednesday. If 2016 is not Suggs’ last ride, the end of the journey is getting closer.

RELATED: FIVE YOUNG PASS RUSHERS TO WATCH

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Five young pass rushers to watch, with Suggs and Dumervil on PUP

Five young pass rushers to watch, with Suggs and Dumervil on PUP

With Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil starting training camp on the PUP list, the Ravens’ young pass rushers have an opportunity to show what they’ve got.

It’s not surprising, or overly alarming, that Suggs (Achilles) and Dumervil (foot) aren’t ready to participate in full-team practices, which begin Thursday. The priority for them is to be ready by Week 1.

But the reality is that Suggs is 33 years old and Dumervil is 32 – closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. Remember when the Ravens loaded up on pass rushers in the draft? Training camp and the preseason will shed light on which young pass rushers are ready to contribute, and which ones are not.

RELATED: RAVENS NAME SIX PLAYERS TO THE PUP LIST

Here are five young Ravens pass rushers to watch closely during training camp and the preseason:

Kamalei Correa, rookie OLB

Correa might see more time at inside linebacker as a rookie, because the Ravens are looking for a starting inside linebacker next to C. J. Mosley. However, Correa’s skills as a pass-rushing outside linebacker at Boise St. convinced the Ravens he was worthy of being a second-round pick. If Correa is getting pressure on quarterbacks, the Ravens will find consistent snaps for him.

Matt Judon, rookie DE

He led the nation in sacks last season with 20 at Grand Valley State. As a fifth-round pick, Judon is making a major leap to the NFL and he is raw. But he also has size (6-foot-3, 275 pounds) and athleticism. Judon could earn an immediate role as a situational pass rusher.

Bronson Kaufusi, rookie DE

He’s huge (6-foot-6, 285 pounds). He’s mature, already 25 years old after completing a two-year Mormon mission before attending BYU. And he’s athletic, good enough to spend one season on BYU’s basketball team before focusing on football. The Ravens’ third-round pick, Kaufusi could also earn a role as a situational pass rusher.

Victor Ochi, undrafted OLB

Ochi (6-foot-1, 245 pounds) has a body build like Dumervil – powerful with a low center of gravity. The Ravens have had at least one undrafted rookie make their roster for 12 straight years. Ochi could extend that streak. He was hoping to be the first player from Stony Brook ever drafted. Now he’s hoping to prove he should have been drafted.   

Za’Darius Smith, second-year OLB

Smith finished strong as a rookie. Of his 5 ½ sacks, 3 ½ came over the final three games. According to Smith, Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants 10 sacks from Smith this season. If Smith becomes a double-digit sack artist, the Ravens’ pass rush will take a major leap.

MORE RAVENS: WILL SMITH'S BODY BETRAY HIM AGAIN?

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Suggs, Smith among six Ravens named to PUP list

Suggs, Smith among six Ravens named to PUP list

The Ravens announced six players placed on the physically unable to perform list Saturday - linebacker Terrell Suggs, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman, linebacker Elvis Dumervil, running back Trent Richardson, and cornerback Jumal Rolle.

Quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot), tight end Dennis Pitta (hip), and cornerback Will Davis (knee) were not placed on PUP, indicating they were ready for the team’s first full-team training camp practice Thursday.

Any player on the PUP list can be activated and return to practice at any point prior to the regular season. Once a player is placed on the regular-season PUP list, he must sit out at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

RELATED: WILL SMITH'S BODY BETRAY HIM AGAIN?

Rolle (Achilles injury) is expected to miss the entire season. Here’s the breakdown on the other five PUP list players:

Suggs – He still has not fully recovered from his season-ending Achilles injury suffered in Week 1 last September. Suggs is scheduled to meet with the media Wednesday, where further details about his progress should be revealed.

Smith Sr. – Also recovering from a season-ending Achilles injury suffered in November. Smith said he would not care if he missed the entire preseason. His priority is to be ready by Week 1.

Perriman – He suffered a knee injury during minicamp which did not require season-ending surgery. However, Perriman has still not played a preseason or regular season game since being drafted in the first round in 2015. After two knee injuries in two years, the Ravens have every reason to be cautious with Perriman until they think he is ready to return.

Dumervil – He had offseason foot surgery after playing through pain last season. Dumervil missed mandatory minicamp, but did not sound concerned about being ready for Week 1.

Richardson – His lingering hamstring issue could ruin his bid for an NFL comeback. The Ravens are deep at running back, and Richardson needs to get healthy to have any chance to win a roster spot.

MORE RAVENS: FLACCO HAS LONG ODDS FOR MVP