49ers sign versatile Harper off Seahawks practice squad

49ers make tough calls on Hawkins, Jennings

49ers sign versatile Harper off Seahawks practice squad
September 2, 2013, 11:45 am
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Rookie Chris Harper caught just four passes for 39 yards in four preseason games with the Seattle Seahawks. (AP)

The 49ers on Monday officially signed rookie Chris Harper off the Seattle Seahawks' practice squad, a source told CSNBayArea.com.

Harper, a fourth-round draft pick of the Seahawks, had to pass a physical before the deal was finalized. The Seahawks cut him on Saturday, but they attempted to keep him in the organization.

The 49ers opened a roster spot for Harper on Monday with a trade that sent outside linebacker Cam Johnson to the Indianapolis Colts.

[RELATED: 49ers trade Cam Johnson to Colts]

With the addition of Harper to the 53-man roster, the 49ers now have two players selected within five picks of each other in the fourth round. Harper was the Seahawks' choice at No. 123 overall, while the 49ers drafted Quinton Patton at No. 128.

Harper lined up at wide receiver for the Seahawks. But the 49ers envision Harper (6 foot 1, 234 pounds) more in the Delanie Walker mold, a source told CSNBayArea.com. Harper caught 57 passes for 848 yards (14.9 average) and three touchdowns in a predominantly run offense for Kansas State last season. Kansas State averaged 207.4 yards passing per game and 194.0 yards rushing on the season.

Harper, who is about the same size as Walker, who coach Jim Harbaugh referred to as a "Swiss army knife" because was used in a lot of different roles. Walker was a wide receiver at Central Missouri before the 49ers selected him in the sixth round of the 2006 draft and converted him to tight end. Harper should be able to handle the mental demands of playing a lot of different positions. He reportedly scored the highest of any of the draft-eligible wide receivers in the Wonderlic intelligence test at the NFL scouting combine.

The 49ers lost a potential player to fill that role in the future when six teams claimed tight end MarQueis Gray, whom the 49ers cut on Saturday. He was awarded to the Cleveland Browns via waivers. The 49ers have tight ends Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek on the 53-man roster.

[RELATED: Looking ahead to the 2014 draft]

Walker was signed by the Tennessee Titans as a free agent in the offseason. Walker served at tight end, H-back, slot receiver, wide receiver and fullback, as well as being one of the team's core special teams players.

The 49ers already have five wide receivers on their roster: Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton, Marlon Moore and Jon Baldwin. Additionally, the 49ers expect to activate Mario Manningham (knee) and Michael Crabtree (Achilles) off the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list at some point after Week 6 of the regular season. Those decisions will be based on who is considered the most expendable on the team's roster at the times Manningham and Crabtree become available. Injuries can also factor into those decisions.

* * *

OFFENSE
Quarterback (3):Colin Kaepernick, Colt McCoy, B.J. Daniels
Running back (5):Frank Gore, Bruce Miller, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Anthony Dixon
Wide receiver (5):Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, Marlon Moore, Quinton Patton, Jon Baldwin
Tight end (4):Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, Chris Harper

Offensive line (8):Joe Staley, Mike Iupati Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Adam Snyder, Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney

DEFENSE
Defensive line (6):Ray McDonald, Ian Williams, Justin Smith, Glenn Dorsey, Will Tukuafu, Tony Jerod-Eddie
Outside linebacker (4):Ahmad Brooks, Aldon Smith, Dank Skuta, Corey Lemonier
Inside linebacker (5):Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Michael Wilhoite, Nick Moody, Nate Stupar
Cornerback (5):Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Nnamdi Asomugha, Tramaine Brock, Perrish Cox
Safety (5):Donte Whitner, Eric Reid, Craig Dahl, C.J. Spillman, Bubba Ventrone

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
Punter:Andy Lee
Kicker:Phil Dawson
Long snapper:Kevin McDermott

Reserve/physically unable to perform
WR Michael Crabtree
WR Mario Manningham

Reserve/non-football injury/illness
CB Eric Wright
DL Tank Carradine
DL Quinton Dial
RB Marcus Lattimore
OL Luke Marquardt

The players on the above reserve lists are ineligible to practice or play for the first six weeks of the regular season.