DuJuan Harris was selling cars for a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealership in Jacksonville at the start of the football season. Scratch, that, Harris was so bad at that gig he did not sell a single car.
"I came close a few times," the pint sized-yet-powerful Green Bay running back said this week, per Associated Press. "I don't want to say I was nervous, but people would ask me about the cars and I didn't know much about it. I was just like, 'Man, I'm not going to sell the cars.'"
No matter, Harris is a better football player than a salesman. And now he hopes to drive Green Bay over the 49ers today in an NFC divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park.
Harris has had a bumpy road in his short career. An undrafted rookie out of Troy, the 5-feet-8, 203-pounder spent most of the 2011 season on Jacksonville's practice squad before being promoted to the active roster and appearing in the Jaguars' final five games. He was cut by the Jags at the end of training camp this past season and was picked up by Pittsburgh, though he only lasted four days with the Steelers.
The car lot called. Then, so did the Packers. Harris was signed to Green Bay's practice squad on Oct. 24 before being promoted to the active roster on Dec. 1.
And since Dec. 2, the Packers are averaging 112 yards rushing and have scored nine touchdowns on the ground. Harris may only be averaging 40.8 rushing yards per game, but is averaging 4.1 yards per carry for a team that had surpassed 100 rushing yards just three times in the season's first eight games.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy admitted he was surprised by Harris' production.
"Absolutely, I think you have to be," McCarthy said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters this week. "There really wasn't a period of development where you can go back and go through the installations, and he kind of had to learn everything on the run. And then through injury he was given an opportunity and he has done very well, with each game. So I'm definitely surprised and thrilled that he's here."
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, though, had a different viewpoint when asked if he was surprised.
"Not really, only because you saw him do it in practice against our No. 1 defense," Rodgers said in a conference call. "And after a couple of weeks of watching him making a lot of great runs, there was a lot of us wondering why (No.) 26 wasn't activated. Just a matter of him understanding the offense and learning the offense on the fly and then week to week kind of picking it up a little more and getting some more opportunities. So I'm really proud of him.
"As a veteran, you kind of pull for (him) because you see how difficult it is."
But would Rodgers buy a car from Harris?
The Packers have faced the 49ers five times in the playoffs. And receiver Jordy Nelson recalls a time he saw one of the games on television.
"The main one I remember is, I don't think it's a good thing for Green Bay, but, T.O. crying," Nelson said, referencing Terrell Owens' game-winning 25-yard touchdown catch with three seconds remaining on Jan. 3, 1999.
McCarthy lauded 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh for the job he's done in two short seasons.
"I think his record speaks for itself," McCarthy said. "The year that he had last year -- when I look at coaching jobs in the NFL, just in my time as being a head coach, you appreciate what the 49ers accomplished last year -- you had no offseason program with the CBA, the lockout, and then to go all the way to the NFC championship game, I think that speaks volumes about Jim and his staff."
McCarthy compared what the 49ers accomplished in 2011 to what Indianapolis did this past season with Bruce Arians filling in for most of the season in place of the leukemia-stricken Chuck Pagano.
"Those are two of the best coaching jobs, in my opinion, that I've seen in my time, just based on the circumstances around their seasons," McCarthy said.
The Packers' postseason winning percentage of .638 (30-17) is the best in NFL history…McCarthy's playoff winning percentage of .667 (6-3) is second in franchise history, behind Vince Lombardi's .900 (9-1)…Rodgers has not thrown an interception in five straight games, including the wild card win over Minnesota last week, a stretch of 177 passing attempts…placekicker Mason Crosby has made six straight field goals, a franchise playoff record, eclipsing the five straight by Don Chandler in 1965 and Chris Jacke in 1996…the 11 completed passes the Packers allowed the Vikings last week were the fewest given up by Green Bay in a playoff game since giving up seven completions at Washington on Dec. 24, 1972…the 10 points the Packers gave up to the Vikings were the fewest surrendered in a playoff game since giving up 10 to the 49ers at Candlestick Park on Jan. 11, 1998.