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Monday, September 2, 2013
Adding fuel to the Seahawks-49ers rivalry

By Terry Blount


Maybe the San Francisco 49ers just needed another wide receiver and they honestly felt rookie Chris Harper was the best option available to add to their roster.

It’s a sensible conclusion, but for many Seahawks fans, that won’t be the perception. The move by the 49ers (first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN) that kept the Seattle Seahawks from placing Harper on their practice squad, will be viewed as another example of the bad blood between the NFC West rivals.

This is starting to look like the Hatfields and McCoys of the NFL. These two teams don’t like each other and they don’t hide it. The two coaches -- Pete Carroll at Seattle and Jim Harbaugh at San Francisco -- have issues dating back to their days in the Pac-12.

Now the 49ers have thrown another iron on the fire by signing Harper, Seattle's fourth-round pick from Kansas State. Harper did not look good in training camp or the preseason games. He dropped two passes, (one of which would have been an easy touchdown) against the Oakland Raiders in the final preseason game last week.

And Harper was beaten out for the fifth receiver spot by free agent Stephen Williams, who caught seven passes for 236 yards in the preseason, including three long touchdowns. Williams suffered a concussion in the final preseason game and his status for the opener is unknown.

Despite Harper's poor showing, it was unusual for Seattle to release him. He was one of only two fourth-round draft picks to get released -- the other being quarterback Tyler Wilson at Oakland.

But the Seahawks thought Harper (a big receiver at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds) had potential to improve and wanted to add him to the practice squad. The 49ers kept that from happening.

San Francisco has two of its top receivers -- Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham -- on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to start the season, so the 49ers need help there. But they kept five receivers on the roster after the cut to 53 -- Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, Jon Baldwin, Quinton Patton and Marlon Moore.

Whether Harper can help them early is questionable. But the rivalry between these two Super Bowl contenders just got a little more heated, and it isn’t long before they meet on the field.

The Seahawks play host to the 49ers at Century Link Field in a Sunday night game in Week 2.