Marin Catholic’s Jared Goff aims to end his childhood team’s Super Bowl run

There will be two No. 16 jerseys in Levi’s Stadium on Sunday: one on display in the retired numbers and another behind center for the visiting Lions.

Jared Goff, the quarterback who resurrected his career in Detroit, has worn the 16 from Pop Warner through high school, college and the NFL. It’s the only jersey he has worn, an homage to his favorite player growing up, Joe Montana.

The Novato native who starred at Marin Catholic stands between his hometown team and the Super Bowl. Goff helped deliver the Lions’ first NFC North title since 1993 and will get a chance to lead the franchise to its first Super Bowl in front of scores of friends and family in Santa Clara.

“It’ll be fun to be able to play a big game there, but I’ve played there quite a few times and we’ll have some friends and family there,” Goff told reporters this week. ”It’ll be cool.”

No one who knows Goff is surprised that he’d downplay any emotions he might feel Sunday. Like his number-sake, he’s known to be cool, calm and collected.

“A lot more on the line,” said Mazi Moayed, Goff’s head coach at Marin Catholic. “A little bit more pressure. I think that’s one of his strengths, is just how he processes big moments or big games. He’s got that Joe Cool-ness about him. He’s a pretty poised young man. I think he’s excited about coming back and playing.”

It has been that way since high school and through college at Cal, where Goff became the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

And yes, Goff has played at Levi’s before. In his eight-year NFL career, he has played the Niners in Santa Clara four times, going 2-2 while throwing nine touchdowns to two interceptions. But none of those games came in the postseason, and none with stakes quite like this.

“It’s sort of like a homecoming game for him,” Moayed said. “Against the Niners, in the Bay Area, whole nine yards. He’ll have a Jared Goff Caravan out there, family and friends, which will be really cool. So I think for a lot of reasons, he’s probably more excited than he is nervous. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and a great opportunity for him.”

Marin Catholic quarterback (16) Jared Goff scrambles away from the defensive pressure of Eureka’s (27) Baba Lee. Eureka played Marin Catholic in the North Coast Section Division III football quarterfinals at Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, Calif. on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011. (Special to the IJ/Douglas Zimmerman) 

Moayed, who will be a part of that “caravan,” also joined Goff at the draft eight years ago. He was backstage with Goff and his family when the Rams drafted the pocket passer, trading up from No. 15 all the way up to the top pick. That year, the 49ers selected, having gone 2-14 in Colin Kaepernick’s last year in the NFL. They needed a new quarterback, but instead of drafting one, they waited until October to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Goff took a windy road from that night to Sunday’s NFC Championship. Goff thrived in Sean McVay’s offense, leading the Rams to the 2018 Super Bowl, but then plateaued so much that the Rams cut ties with him, seeking an upgrade. They immediately won the Super Bowl after trading Goff for Matthew Stafford. Despite a brutal three-win first season in Detroit, the Lions showed Goff support; he has since bounced back with two excellent years. Since the start of the 2022 season, only Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen have thrown more touchdowns than Goff (59).

Like Moayed, Goff’s longtime friend Alex Poksay will be supporting him on Sunday. He also joined Goff’s traveling party for Detroit’s last two playoff games — victories at Ford Field over Goff’s former team, the Rams, and the Buccaneers.

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At the same time Goff was going to Candlestick Park to watch the Niners as a fan, he was playing youth football alongside Poksay. Poksay, who’s now a Marin Catholic assistant coach, said Goff has remained connected to his high school program. When quarterback Charlie Seymore suffered a second ACL tear, Goff lent his support.

“His family’s from Michigan, they’re big Lions and University of Michigan fans,” Poksay said of Seymore. “Jared and (Lions defensive end) Aidan Hutchinson actually sent a video to the kid who’d just tore his ACL. He had a tough go, just reminding him to keep his head up, ‘We’re thinking about you and hope your recovery goes well.’ That’s such an unbelievable thing for a high school kid to hear after he just earned a scholarship and that kind of went away after his second ACL injury this year.”

Goff’s presence in the North Bay, a 49er stronghold, has split allegiances. Malek Banoun, who played with Goff at Marin Catholic and now works as the Wildcats’ strength and conditioning coach, said the “energy” around the high school and town is palpable.

“I feel like a lot of people are torn on who to root for,” Banoun said. “Deep down, I think we’re all rooting for Jared. The energy’s high, I think we’re going to have a good day (Sunday). I think it’s like our Super Bowl. We’re just really excited for him and proud for him.”

Marin Catholic quarterback Jared Goff looks over his shoulder before throwing a pass during practice at Marin Catholic in Kentfield, Calif. on Wednesday, December 1, 2010. (IJ photo/Alan Dep) 

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