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Chris Harper to Play Versatile Role

Posted Sep 3, 2013

Chris Harper had two choices over Labor Day weekend.

Chris Harper had two choices over Labor Day weekend.

The rookie wide receiver had the opportunity of signing a three-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers to join a 53-man roster, or stay with the Seattle Seahawks on the NFC West rival’s eight-man practice squad.

The Seahawks sweetened their offer to the 6-foot-1, 232-pound wideout, but Harper declined.

On Monday, he signed with the 49ers.

“I just wanted to play,” said Seattle’s fourth-round draft pick, No. 123 overall.

The former Kansas State wide receiver, who began his college career as a quarterback at the University of Oregon, had no problem switching teams in the NFC West.

The opportunity was too good to pass up.

“It didn’t matter about the rivalries or anything like that,” said Harper, who caught four passes for 39 yards in the preseason. “Everyone’s a rival. That’s how I looked at it my whole life. I didn’t make any one game bigger, because at the end of the day, you’re trying to win all the games at the end of the season.”


Harper said the Seahawks “did a lot” to try and keep him on their practice squad. But at the end of the day, the decision to sign with the 49ers was strictly from his desire to compete on a 53-man roster.

“It came down to me wanting to play,” Harper said. “That’s really what happened.”

Now, the college wide receiver will take on a greater role in San Francisco. The physical wideout will look to put on muscle as he learns the team’s H-back (F) position in Greg Roman’s offensive system.

Harper will have to learn the nuances of playing on the line of scrimmage as a blocker and out wide as a pass-catcher. Reading defensive fronts will be a challenge, but it’s one he willingly accepts.

“I’m going to be a lot of different roles, moving out, playing inside a little bit and playing outside a little bit, doing everything basically,” Harper said before explaining the toughest challenge of all.

“I never got in a three-point stance before, so that’s going to be different for me.”

Harper is a likely candidate to handle some of the do-it-all responsibilities of former tight end Delanie Walker, an eighth-year pro who signed with the Tennessee Titans in free agency. Harper said he brushed up on Walker’s film last night. It’s a role he’s looking forward to learning in San Francisco.

“We’ll be doing a lot of similar things,” Harper said. “I had already watched him before. I knew how they used him before. I knew he was the H-back. They put him all over the field and he was a great athlete. You could tell that. It popped off the film. He was a big guy who could run.”

Harper looked eager to begin his new role with a new team.

As a physical receiver, Harper always took pride in his blocking. Only now, he’ll have to use those fundamentals against bigger competition.

“I thought I was a great blocker playing receiver," Harper began, "but now I have to block dudes like Aldon (Smith) and Patrick (Willis), so we’ll see.”


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