Fred Warner during the 2020 NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. (Getty Images)

Former BYU football players fight for spot in Super Bowl

BYU football alumni Daniel Sorensen and Fred Warner are one game away from the chance to play on the world’s biggest stage: the Super Bowl.

Sorensen, a safety for the Kansas City Chiefs, and Warner, an outside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, had six solo tackles in last week’s playoff games and tied for the lead in total tackles on their respective teams.

Sorensen and Warner have both been there before, as their teams went face to face in Super Bowl LIV. The Chiefs beat the 49ers 31-20, securing their first Super Bowl victory since 1970. Sorensen and the Chiefs returned to the Super Bowl in 2021 but lost to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-9.

Sorensen has played in 17 games this season with two interceptions and 40 solo tackles. He struggled earlier in the year but came in clutch for the Chiefs with an interception against the Las Vegas Raiders late in the season.

Daniel Sorensen celebrates with his teammate Anthony Sherman (42) after his interception against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Chiefs went on to win the game 41-14. (Getty Images)

“I can tell you this, I’m happy as heck for him and proud of him,”defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “I don’t like to give up on people. Especially a guy that has done the things that Dan has done for us in the past. Now had he struggled? Yeah. But I’m happy for him, and I’m hoping it can be a building block.”

Sorensen played for BYU during the 2008 and 2011-2013 seasons, with Warner playing for the Cougars immediately after from 2014-2017.

Last season, Warner was given All-Pro honors and a five-year contract for more the $92 million for his impact on the field with the 49ers. He did not earn Pro-Bowl status this season, however, with only one interception and one forced fumble.

With such a successful season last year, Warner wanted to up the stakes and be a more dominant player. He feels he has fallen short of his season goals when it came time for a self-assessment.

“I think just the short answer is I can be better,” Warner said. “I always look back to, ‘Are you getting better or are you getting worse?’ And last year, I was playing at a high level, obviously All-Pro, Pro Bowl.”

Warner supported his alma mater before this weekend’s big game by attending the BYU men’s basketball game in Santa Clara, California, with his fiance Sydney Hightower.

The Chiefs take on Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. MST. The Bengals look to win their first AFC Championship game since 1988. The Chiefs are seven-point favorites against the Bengals.

In the NFC Championship, the 49ers face the Los Angeles Rams for the third time this season. Although the 49ers beat the Rams twice before in the regular season, the Rams are 3.5-point favorites against their California rivals. The two will face off at 4:30 p.m. MST at Sofi Stadium in Los Angeles.

Warner is confident in his team and what they can do in the playoffs. When speaking to reporters, he explained the importance of hard work and team chemistry. “It takes everyone being dialed in for a full four quarters. We’re gonna need the same thing this week.”

He believes the team is primed and ready for the challenge. “We’re peaking right at the right time. And that’s what the whole season is about. That’s what football is about. You got to make sure you’re playing at your best when your best is needed.”

If both the Chiefs and 49ers advance today, Sorensen and Warner will again face each other at the Super Bowl on Feb. 13.

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