San Francisco 49ers: Chris Harper

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The San Francisco 49ers’ coaching staff loves versatile offensive weapons. The team used Delanie Walker as their “Swiss Army knife” -- the tight end could do a little bit of everything -- but he departed to Tennessee in free agency this offseason. Fullback Bruce Miller has become somewhat of a do-everything player for the 49ers. But they want more like him.

The team claimed rookie Chris Harper off waivers from Seattle with the idea of using him as a Walker-type tight end. But Harper was released last month.

By all accounts, Derek Carrier has come along well on the practice squad. Carrier entered the NFL with Oakland in 2012 as an undrafted free-agent receiver. After he was cut by the Raiders, Carrier spent time on Philadelphia’s practice squad, where the Eagles made him a tight end. Now with the 49ers, he is still a tight end. But he is also doing a lot of different things.

“This is definitely the most different roles and responsibilities I’ve had in [my] time in the NFL,” Carrier said. “The coaches have a lot of different schemes and ideas here, and it’s a lot of fun learning everything. I know this can be a great opportunity for me.”

49ers activate Quinton Dial

October, 19, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The San Francisco 49ers have activated rookie defensive tackle Quinton Dial from the physically unable to perform list.

The fifth-round pick from Alabama is active after just three days of practice. He will likely be active Sunday because the 49ers are thin at nose tackle because Glenn Dorsey is dealing with a hamstring injury. Tony Jerod-Eddie will likely start. The other option was promoting Mike Purcell from the practice squad, but Dial is a more skilled player.

Receiver Chris Harper was cut on Thursday to make room on the 53-man roster for this move. Harper was claimed by Green Bay on Friday. The 49ers had interest in putting Harper on the practice squad.

Here is a post I did Friday on what to expect from Dial.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- As expected, San Francisco nose tackle Glenn Dorsey is listed as questionable to play at Tennessee on Sunday.

Dorsey injured his hamstring last week in the win against Arizona. The odds are Dorsey is rested and Tony Jerod-Eddie starts. Coach Jim Harbaugh said a player will be added to the 53-man roster Saturday, and it will likely either be Quinton Dial (off the PUP list) or Mike Purcell (off the practice squad). The 49ers need depth at nose tackle.

Receiver Jon Baldwin is questionable with an illness that has been bothering him since Thursday. Defensive linemen Ray McDonald (biceps) and Justin Smith (shoulder) are also questionable. But all are likely to play Sunday barring any setbacks.

• Linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who is dealing with a personal matter, he missed the past two days of practice, but is expected to play Sunday.

• Receiver Chris Harper was claimed off waivers from Green Bay. The 49ers cut him Thursday. He was originally cut by Seattle in August after being a fourth-round pick. The 49ers likely would have put Harper on the practice squad.

• Harbaugh raved about Mario Manningham’s work in practice and said Manningham will be activated from the PUP “soon.”

• 49ers tackle Anthony Davis was fined $15,750 for an illegal clip against the Cardinals.

• Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker is questionable to play Sunday. He has missed the past two games with a hip injury. Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick will start if Locker can’t play.
When the San Francisco 49ers claimed Chris Harper off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks in early September they had big plans for him.

The 49ers wanted the receiver to play a hybrid receiver-tight end role like the one former 49er Delanie Walker – who will face the 49ers on Sunday at Tennessee – had for the team. However, Harper, at least for now, won’t get the chance to develop in San Francisco. Harper, whom Seattle cut as a rookie despite being a fourth-round pick, was cut Thursday by the 49ers. They will likely add a defensive lineman to the 53-man roster.

Harper could end up on the 49ers practice squad if he is not claimed on waivers by Friday. Harper’s release is not a shock. He was never active this season and the 49ers roster is talented.

Meanwhile, Tennessee cleared quarterback Jake Locker for contact and he practiced more Thursday than he did Wednesday. He has missed the past two games with a hip injury. Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to start Sunday, but it is not out of the question that Locker tries to play. On Wednesday, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said the team is preparing for both quarterbacks.
Cornerback play and special teams coverage were on the top of coach Jim Harbaugh’s happy list Monday.

Both units came up big in the San Francisco 49ers' 34-3 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday night.

Tramaine Brock, the No. 3 cornerback, had two interceptions, including one he ran back for a touchdown. Special teams suffocated Houston just as it did last week on the road against the St. Louis Rams. The group is much improved from last year.

“Coverage units were very effective in this game and it’s great in terms of field position, putting the defense in a good position, making their offense go the long route, and then getting the ball back for the offense in good field position,” Harbaugh said. “[It] just increases your percentage of putting points on the board and I’m very pleased with what they’re doing right now.”

In other notes from Harbaugh’s news conference:

He said the offensive scout team has been very strong in the past few weeks, simulating what the 49ers’ defense was about to see against the upcoming opponent.

Harbaugh also said rookie Chris Harper has been playing both tight end and receiver in practice. He has not been active for a game this season.

Thoughts on the '49er Way'

September, 3, 2013
As I start covering the San Francisco 49ers, I wanted to relay my thoughts on some of the recent developments made by the team.

One of the reasons why I’m so excited about this new career path is because of just how fascinating the 49ers are as an organization. Even minor, bottom-of-the roster movements smack of intrigue, philosophy and strategy.

The 49ers’ signing of Chris Harper on Monday is a perfect example. He was cut by Seattle after being a fourth-round pick. The San Francisco-Seattle personnel battle is well documented and this is another chapter.

Because of his size and potential matchup problems that he can create, the 49ers reportedly plan to use Harper as a tight end. If it works, it will be another score. If not, it is a low-risk move and further gets the 49ers in the heads of the Seahawks, and that’s always a victory.

I know some 49ers fans were surprised to see the team trade linebacker Cam Johnson to the Colts on Monday. Johnson was a preseason star. He was all over the field in the preseason finale win over San Diego. But the 49ers are stacked.

The 49ers received a seventh-round pick next year for Johnson. It is stunning to me that the 49ers are now in position to have 13 draft picks next year. The 49ers were draft bosses in 2013 and they are set to do the same next year.

Having a surplus of draft picks will allow San Francisco to move up and down the draft and manipulate it. That approach allowed San Francisco to nab injured but high-potential players Marcus Lattimore and Tank Carradine this year. It appears the 49ers will be in position to take risk-reward choices again next year.

Cam Johnson and 49ers' draft planning

September, 2, 2013
The San Francisco 49ers exchanged a 2012 seventh-round pick for 2013 fourth- and 2014 seventh-round picks Monday. That sounds like a pretty good deal and it's typical of the 49ers maximizing value. No one went into the 2013 draft with more picks than the 49ers possessed, and already San Francisco could have as many as 13 selections for next year.

The most recent accounting looks like this: 49ers outside linebacker Cam Johnson, a 2012 seventh-round pick coming off an impressive preseason, goes to the Indianapolis Colts for what is reportedly a 2014 seventh-round pick. Receiver Chris Harper, drafted in the fourth round by the Seattle Seahawks this year, goes to the 49ers' 53-man roster from the Seahawks' practice squad. Trading Johnson to the Colts made room on the 49res' roster for Harper, which is why I included the Harper signing in the equation.

Johnson probably would not have factored on the 46-man roster for games. Harper might not, either. But receiver is a position where the 49ers have long-term question marks. Anquan Boldin is signed for 2013 only. Michael Crabtree remains sidelined by a torn Achilles' tendon. His longer-term contract situation remains unsettled. Mario Manningham may or may not factor longer term.

Harper is intriguing at 6-foot-1 and 234 pounds. He shares height-weight similarities with Boldin and former 49ers tight end Delanie Walker. It will be interesting to see how the 49ers use Harper if he sticks on the roster for the long term.

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.

On 49ers' move to add ex-Seahawk Harper

September, 2, 2013
The San Francisco 49ers emerged from the 2013 NFL draft with one of the four wide receivers selected in the fourth round. They could wind up with two of them after moving to sign Chris Harper from the Seattle Seahawks' practice squad, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. But with Matt Maiocco of saying the Seahawks are making a last-ditch effort to keep Harper, the heated rivalry between these teams figures to get even warmer.

Harper did not show enough during training camp and the preseason for the Seattle Seahawks to keep him on their initial 53-man roster. Surprisingly strong camps from Jermaine Kearse and Stephen Williams pushed Harper off the roster despite his draft status. Seattle signed Harper to its practice squad and hoped to develop him, but now the Seahawks could wind up facing Harper as early as Week 2, depending upon how the receiver pecking order shakes out in San Francisco.

The Seahawks drafted Harper from Kansas State with the 123rd overall pick. The 49ers used the 128th choice for Louisiana Tech receiver Quinton Patton. Harper caught four passes for 39 yards during the preseason and struggled to make an impact. Patton came on strong as the preseason progressed, finishing with six receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Depth issues at receiver gave Patton additional opportunities, and he capitalized on them.

The 49ers are getting in Harper a receiver built similarly to their current No. 1 option, Anquan Boldin. Both are 6-foot-1. Boldin weighs 220 pounds and relies upon his strength to make catches even when closely defended. Harper is 6-1 and 234 pounds. He was considered a developmental prospect after converting from running back and quarterback to receiver only in the past few years.

"He gives us a guy that is a big, strong, physical receiver, different from the guys that we have," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after the draft. "He played really in a run-oriented offense and didn't get as many balls as some of the teams that throw the ball all over the yard. He runs real well and plays the ball real well. He makes catches with guys hanging all over him, so we really like that kind of element that he brings to us."

Boldin's presence on the 49ers' roster and the team's affinity for power-oriented offense makes Harper and intriguing pickup for San Francisco. Harper could not have a better mentor than Boldin, who has made it a point to help younger players learn the game. The physical similarities between the players adds to the idea that Harper might have a better shot at developing in San Francisco.

The rivaly between the Seahawks and 49ers adds intrigue to every move the teams make, particularly when those moves involve players moving from one roster to another. We should note that the 49ers have already signed and released former Seattle receivers Ricardo Lockette and Charly Martin. If the Seahawks were determined to keep Harper, they wouldn't have released him. However, Lockette and Martin had been around a while. Harper is just starting out. He hasn't done much to this point, but he's just getting started.