SANTA CLARA -- First he was only a receiver. Then he was only a blocker. Now, 49ers tight end Delanie Walker is emerging as one of the league's most versatile big-bodied playmakers.
Walker entered the league with the 49ers in 2006 and saw little action, in part because of the knock on his ability to occupy his opponent.
"People said I couldn't block when I first came in," Walker said. "So I focused on blocking a lot and got good at it.
"Now they're starting to use me a little too much at it," he added with a laugh.
Sunday's win over the Jets was indication that the playbook could be re-opening for Walker, as he was featured in a number of different offensive looks.
Implementing a new wrinkle in the first quarter, backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick was used to run the read-option, and it was Walker who was flanked left awaiting his toss. Walker also hauled in two catches for 31 yards on a day when there weren't many passes to be caught.
"We always start doing something new to put us in situations to win the game," Walker said. "And that option is one of them. Kaepernick can run the option well. He's got great speed down the field.
"We tried it out and it worked out perfectly."
Well, almost perfectly. True, Kaepernick used Walker as a decoy and picked up the first down before he was brought down for a 17-yard gain, but even once they got upfield, Walker was looking for the lateral, and he was looking at the end zone.
"Yeah," Walker answered when asked if he thought he had the touchdown. "I got back on level with him. I was on the left side of him waiting on the pitch. Hopefully if we run it again, he'll know that I'll be on his side."
Walker indicated that he practiced staying on Kaepernick's outside hip and the team focused on maintaining position for a potential pitch even after crossing the line of scrimmage. But it's not too surprising Kaepernick kept it himself; he is the only D1 quarterback ever to have passed for over 10,000 yards and rushed for over 4,000.
Walker, 28, provides matchup problems all over the field, and the 49ers have tried to manufacture plays that allow him to exploit his size and athleticism. At six-feet, 242-pounds, Walker has receptions as well as rushing attempts in each of the past four seasons.
Protected by weapons all around him, and benefiting from a full season under the belt of offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Walker's chances of making an impact with the ball in his hands have never been better. And while he likes the new-look plays geared toward getting him the ball in space, Walker hasn't forgotten the blocking skills that entrenched him as a part of the 49ers offense.
"My plays will come when they come," the seven-year veteran said. "I like doing whatever I got to do to help the team out."