You won’t hear Alfredo Gutiérrez’s name mentioned during the CBS telecast of Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11 — but Mexican fans will feel a sense of pride, anyway.
The 28-year-old Tijuana native is a member of the San Francisco 49ers, who will play the Kansas City Chiefs for the NFL title thanks to a come-from-behind 34-31 win Sunday over the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship.
The hulking 6-foot-9, 332-pound offensive lineman didn’t play in that game, nor will he play in the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, nor has he ever played in a regular-season NFL game.
But he’s on the 49ers’ roster as a member of the practice squad, meaning he’ll play an important role as the 49ers work on their game plan.
Gutiérrez was born in Tijuana, Baja California, on Dec. 29, 1995 and after playing youth football in Mexico, he attended Montgomery High School in San Diego, where he played football as a junior and senior.
After graduating, he wanted to play at a community college in Southern California, but an eligibility issue prompted his transfer to the Institute of Technology and Higher Studies in Monterrey, Nuevo León.
There, he played on scholarship for the Monterrey Tech Borregos (Rams) in the National Student Organization of American Football (ONEFA), one of two leagues in Mexico playing U.S.-style football.
The Borregos won one national championship with Gutiérrez, finishing with a 10-1 record in 2019.
In 2021, he entered the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program and impressed scouts so much that he was signed to a one-year contract for US $207,000 by the 49ers, who will be going for their sixth Super Bowl ring next week.
The 49ers have re-signed him twice since then, and now he is hoping to become the first athlete who played American football at a Mexican university to become a Super Bowl champion.
Other Mexicans have played for Super Bowl winners — such as Torreón, Coahuila–born kicker Raul Allegre of the 1987 New York Giants — but they generally played college football in the United States.
Gutiérrez has never played a down for the 49ers in the regular season or playoffs, but after his preseason debut in 2022, he was presented a game ball from 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.
After the NFC Championship ended on Sunday, he presented his 49ers jersey to his father during the post-game celebration at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
“We come from playing in the streets and now we are one step away from winning a Super Bowl,” the dad says in a video that captured the moment. “I feel like the proudest dad in Mexico.”
Also proud is the family of Isaac Alarcón, a 25-year-old Monterrey native who was signed by the 49ers this month. The 6-foot-7, 301-pound offensive lineman, who, like Gutiérrez, played for the Borregos, was signed to a reserve/future contract, meaning he can’t play or even practice with the team until next season. Alarcón has participated in four Dallas Cowboys’ training camps but has never played in a regular-season game.