The San Francisco 49ers busy week of roster moves included a player-for-player swap with the Detroit Lions. San Francisco sent guard Brandon Thomas to Detroit in exchange for wide receiver Jeremy Kerley.
"Jeremy gives us some depth as a slot receiver," offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins told reporters on Monday. "He also gives us some versatility as a returner, so he's added depth that we really need, and I think he'll be able to get caught up to speed fairly quickly."
The former TCU star was taken by the New York Jets in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. After five seasons in New York, Kerley signed with the Lions as a free agent this offseason. The veteran wideout has 182 career catches for 2,225 yards and nine receiving touchdowns. He's also run the ball 18 times for 133 yards.
"I've been a quick, shifty receiver all my life," Kerley said. "That's what I did in New York. I can definitely bring some mismatches. Whatever these guys need, that's what I'm here for."
Kerley also served as the Jets main punt returner in 2015. He fielded a league-high 48 punts last season for 411 return yards. Kerley has one career punt return touchdown: A 68-yard run back against the Buffalo Bills in 2012.
Modkins was on the Buffalo sideline as the Bills offensive coordinator during that game. It wasn't the first time the coach had come across Kerley.
"I had him in the Senior Bowl, I think when I was at Buffalo," Modkins said. "So, I'm kind of familiar with what his skill set is and look forward to seeing it."
Kerley admitted he was surprised when he got the call he'd been traded. The pass-catcher had six catches for 44 yards through three preseason contests with the Lions.
He joked that he still says New York to his kids on occasion by accident now that he's in his second new home in just a few months time. But there are no sour grapes here. Kerley is ready to take his latest challenge in stride.
"It's all on me, how much I can take in of this playbook. I'll take it one day at a time," Kerley said. "I'm excited about it. I'm eager for the opportunity."
The sixth-year wideout could be a candidate to replace Bruce Ellington, who was placed on the season-ending Injured Reserve List on Tuesday.
"This is another opportunity for me to showcase my talents," Kerley said. "That's all I'm looking forward to doing."