Super Bowl XLVII is loaded with superstars that even the most casual fans will recognize, but both teams field players you may not know about who will be vital to the success of their respective teams.
Like Rod Martin in Super Bowl XV, Carl Banks in Super Bowl XXI and Tracy Porter in Super Bowl XLIV, these players have a chance to forever be enshrined in Super Bowl lore as heroes nobody saw coming.
LaMichael James, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Frank Gore is the main man for the 49ers, but don't fall asleep on LaMichael James. James didn't even take a single snap until the month of December. He was stuck behind Gore and Kendall Hunter on the depth chart, and the 49ers didn't feel the need to rush him into action as a rookie. But when Hunter went down with a torn Achilles tendon at the end of November, James rose to the challenge and took over for his teammate in style. James is a speedy back who possesses surprising power. In his short time as Gore's backup, he's carried the ball 35 times for 180 yards (5.14 yards per carry) and one touchdown (including playoffs).
Bernard Pierce, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Rice is one of the NFL's best running backs, and the Ravens absolutely need him to play well in Super Bowl XLVII, but he's not the only back capable of having a huge impact on the outcome. Bernard Pierce has been one of the unsung heroes to Baltimore's postseason run in 2013, and he's actually outgained Rice on the ground in two of the team's three games thus far. Pierce gained 532 yards and one touchdown on 108 carries (4.9 yards per carry) during the regular season. He really stepped his game up to another level this January, rushing for 169 yards on 27 carries (6.3 yards per carry) in the postseason.
Video coverage of Super Bowl XLVII
Tarell Brown, CB, San Francisco 49ers
No doubt the secondary of the San Francisco 49ers will be tested multiple times in Super Bowl XLVII. The Atlanta Falcons completely annihilated the 49ers through the air in the first half of the NFC Championship Game, but Tarell Brown and his mates buckled down and shut it down in the second half. Brown is an unheralded member of the 49ers defense. Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson receive most of the national attention, but Brown has been playing at a high level all year long.
Pernell McPhee, DE, Baltimore Ravens
After a promising start to his young career in 2011 (six sacks), Pernell McPhee's sophomore season wasn't nearly as productive, as he struggled with a knee injury for part of the season. But McPhee has come on strong of late, with four tackles, one sack and a forced fumble in the playoffs. A strong performance from him against the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII is absolutely necessary if Baltimore has any hope of slowing down San Francisco's rushing attack.
Ted Ginn, WR/ST, San Francisco 49ers
Ted Ginn only caught two passes for the 49ers all year long, and only one for three yards so far this postseason. He isn't a reliable receiver, but boy, can he make plays with the ball in his hands—which is why he's such a dangerous punt returner. Ginn has only returned two punts thus far in the playoffs, but his 20-yard return early in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons put the 49ers offense in Falcons territory and resulted in the game-winning drive.
— Bleacher Report