Staff Photo: Jason Braverman — San Francisco 49ers' Chad Hall congratulates his teammates following a touchdown in the game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
ATLANTA — Chad Hall's first football game in the Georgia Dome and his first game active this NFL season finished with the sweetest of rewards, a trip to his first Super Bowl.
The Wesleyan grad and his San Francisco 49ers sent most of the Atlantans at Sunday's game home disappointed with their 28-24 victory in the NFC Championship Game, but Hall's family and friends were thrilled with a dream-like day.
"It's unreal," Hall said. "When you're 6 years old in the backyard, you're dreaming about playing in the Super Bowl. Now I get a chance to step on that field and soak up that atmosphere. The next two weeks will be unreal. I'll take it all in. These next two weeks are about business, too. We're trying to win this game. But getting there is great. It's surreal."
For half the NFL season, it would have been tough for Hall to envision himself in this spot.
The 26-year-old wide receiver was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles, who he played in 15 games for in 2010 and 2011, in the preseason and was a free agent until he was signed Nov. 27 by the 49ers. He stayed on San Francisco's practice squad for every game until this weekend when he was promoted to the active roster for the first time.
Hall found out Saturday that he would play vs. the team he rooted for as a child, leaving his family and friends scrambling for even more tickets.
"Early in the week (the coaches) told me it was a really big possibility (that I would play)," Hall said. "As the week went on, I did a lot of offense, so I figured I would be and we made it official (Saturday). It was awesome. I was ready. I've been ready every week. But it's awesome to be here in the hometown and play."
The 5-foot-8, 187-pounder, whose pro career got a late start with his two-year commitment to the Air Force (where he was a star running back), got in for one play against the Falcons, a third-and-5 in the third quarter. The quick-hitting pass play was thrown to him — and he was open — but a diving defender batted it down before Colin Kaepernick's pass got to Hall.
He wanted to play more than that, but he wasn't complaining.
"It was awesome, hometown, first game active," Hall said. "It was great being out there. It was the first time I've ever played in the Dome. At Wesleyan, we made the Elite Eight twice, so we never got here (for the state semifinals)."
An even better trip to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans is up next.
Those family and friends scrambling for tickets to Saturday's title game now will need an even pricier ticket. Maybe one hookup — his younger sister Kelly is Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford's longtime girlfriend — will help snag a few extra seats.
Hall has never been to a Super Bowl, even on its stops in Atlanta, so his first taste of the big game will be on the field.
"I'm excited about it, you hear about it, watch on TV, you hear about media day," Hall said. "We won't let it distract us, but at the same time you've got to have fun with it and enjoy the moment. It just doesn't happen to many people in their lifetime.
"Any way I can help this team I want to. Hopefully in two weeks they'll have more plays for me and I'll try to help this team win a Super Bowl."