Ex-Seahawk Harper has new role in San Francisco

McClatchy news servicesSeptember 4, 2013 

Chris Harper, the Seattle Seahawks’ fourth-round draft pick in April, was waived Saturday after making four catches for 39 yards during the exhibition season. He was added to Seattle’s practice squad Sunday, then signed with San Francisco on Monday.

STEPHEN BRASHEAR/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former Seattle Seahawks rookie Chris Harper was given a wide receiver’s number — 13 — by the 49ers on Tuesday, but he confirmed that he will have a multifaceted, Delanie Walker-like role in San Francisco.

Harper was drafted by Seattle as a wide receiver out of Kansas State after he began his college career as a quarterback at Oregon.

However, he has never played tight end, so he received a crash course during his first practice with the 49ers on Tuesday.

“I’ve never gotten in a three-point stance before, so that’s going to be different for me,” Harper said from in front of his locker.

Harper, at 232 pounds, is slightly lighter than Walker, a former 49ers tight end who was signed by Tennessee as a free agent this offseason. Both mostly played wideout in college and were known as physical pass catchers.

Harper said he already was somewhat familiar with Walker, whom 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh once called a “Swiss Army knife,” and he watched game film of Walker after being signed by the 49ers.

“They put him all over the field,” Harper said. “And he’s a great athlete. You can see that on film. … He’s a big guy that can run.”

Harper was drafted in the fourth round this year by the Seahawks. But he was outperformed by former Washington Husky Jermaine Kearse and Stephen Williams and didn’t make the final roster. When Seattle put Harper on its practice squad, the 49ers signed him.

Harper said the Seahawks tried to persuade him to stay by bumping up his practice-squad salary. But the 49ers offered a better opportunity to get on the field, albeit one outside of his comfort zone.

Asked whether he was a good blocker, Harper said, “I thought I was a great blocker … as a receiver. But now I’ve got to block dudes like Aldon (Smith) and Patrick (Willis). So we’ll see.”

Walker played in the backfield as an H-back, along the line of scrimmage as a tight end and split wide as a receiver for the 49ers. Harper said he will do many of the same things.

Harper, who wore No. 3 in college, said he asked Harbaugh for No. 13, and that’s what he was given.

“It’s not like I won’t be playing receiver, either,” he said.

EX-HUSKY RAYFORD DEALT FROM COLTS TO COWBOYS

Former University of Washington and Bethel High School player Caesar Rayford, a defensive end, was traded from the Indianapolis Colts to the Dallas Cowboys for a conditional draft pick in 2015.

Rayford, 27, has played in the Canadian Football League and Arena League since his career at UW (2004-07), where his career highlights included a game-clinching sack in Huskies’ 35-32 win over Washington State in the 2006 Apple Cup.

The 6-foot-7, 267-pound Rayford, who signed with the Colts in May, led the NFL with five sacks during the exhibition season.

EXTRA POINTS

Texans linebacker Brian Cushing signed a six-year contract extension. … The Cowboys agreed to terms with free agent Brian Waters, a six-time Pro Bowl guard. … Guard Danny Watkins, a former first-round draft pick, signed with the Dolphins after being cut by the Eagles. … The Falcons signed veteran offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood. … The Browns (Billy Cundiff) and Bills (Dan Carpenter) filled their vacant placekicker positions by signing veterans.

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