Fifteen former Cal players are headed to the NFL playoffs.
Tony Gonzalez is headed to retirement . . . and Canton.
The Hall of Fame-bound tight end closed out his unparalled career Sunday with four final receptions for 56 yards. The one-time two-sport Cal star wound up his NFL days with staggering numbers:
Career receptions: 1,325 — most-ever by a tight end, No. 2 among all receivers.
Career receiving yards: 15,127 — most-ever by a TE, No. 5 overall.
Career TD receptions: 111 — most-ever by a TE, No. 6 overall.
Meanwhile, former Cal All-America linebacker Ron Rivera will lead his Carolina Panthers into the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 2 seed. Rivera coached the Panthers to a 12-4 record and a first-weekend bye.
Running back Marshawn Lynch helped the Seattle Seahawks to an NFL-best 13-3 record. The seventh-year pro rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 27-9 win over St. Louis, finishing the season with 1,257 yards and 12 TDs. It was Lynch’s fifth 1,000-yard season in seven years and third in a row.
For his career, Lynch now has 7,389 rushing yards to rank seventh among active NFL players. He has scored 58 rushing touchdowns.
Keenan Allen finished a debut season that could land him Rookie of the Year honors. The 21-year-old wideout caught five passes for 89 yards in San Diego’s 27-24 win over Kansas City, the Chargers’ fifth win in their final six games, earning them a playoff date at Cincinnati next Sunday.
Allen caught 71 passes for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns for the season, including 30 for 423 yards and five TDs over those final six games. He had four 100-yard receiving games this season.
Allen will get the chance to reacquaint himself Sunday with former teammate Marvin Jones, who has become a dependable No. 2 receiving target for the Bengals. Jones caught five for 61, including a 16-yard TD, in Cincinnati’s 34-17 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, allowing the Bengals to finish 11-5, 8-0 at home.
Jones wound up the season with 51 catches for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns.
DeSean Jackson completed another prolific season, helping the Philadelphia Eagles to a 10-6 record and their first NFL East title since 2010. Jackson caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine TDs this season, giving the 27-year-old career totals of 356 receptions for 6,117 yards and 32 touchdowns.
Aaron Rodgers came back just in time to help lift the Packers into the playoffs and a date vs. the 49ers next Sunday in Green Bay. Sidelined by a broken collarbone for seven games, Rodgers passed for 318 yards and two touchdowns in the Pack’s 33-28 win at Chicago, including a 48-yard game-winning throw to Randall Cobb with 38 seconds left.
Rodgers finished his abbreviated season with 2,536 yards and 17 TDs and just six interceptions. He remains the NFL’s most efficient all-time passer with a career rating of 104.9. Next on the list is Peyton Manning at 97.2.
Other former Cal players headed to the playoffs are: C.J. Anderson (Denver), Andre Carter (New England), Brian De La Puente (New Orleans), Lavelle Hawkins (San Diego), Cameron Jordan (New Orleans), Mychal Kendricks (Philadelphia), Brandon Mebane (Seattle) and Shane Vereen (New England).
Steve Williams (San Diego) was on the reserve/injured list.