The San Francisco 49ers emerged from the 2013 NFL draft with one of the four wide receivers selected in the fourth round. They could wind up with two of them after moving to sign Chris Harper from the Seattle Seahawks' practice squad, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. But with Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com saying the Seahawks are making a last-ditch effort to keep Harper, the heated rivalry between these teams figures to get even warmer.
Harper did not show enough during training camp and the preseason for the Seattle Seahawks to keep him on their initial 53-man roster. Surprisingly strong camps from Jermaine Kearse and Stephen Williams pushed Harper off the roster despite his draft status. Seattle signed Harper to its practice squad and hoped to develop him, but now the Seahawks could wind up facing Harper as early as Week 2, depending upon how the receiver pecking order shakes out in San Francisco.
The Seahawks drafted Harper from Kansas State with the 123rd overall pick. The 49ers used the 128th choice for Louisiana Tech receiver Quinton Patton. Harper caught four passes for 39 yards during the preseason and struggled to make an impact. Patton came on strong as the preseason progressed, finishing with six receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Depth issues at receiver gave Patton additional opportunities, and he capitalized on them.
The 49ers are getting in Harper a receiver built similarly to their current No. 1 option, Anquan Boldin. Both are 6-foot-1. Boldin weighs 220 pounds and relies upon his strength to make catches even when closely defended. Harper is 6-1 and 234 pounds. He was considered a developmental prospect after converting from running back and quarterback to receiver only in the past few years.
"He gives us a guy that is a big, strong, physical receiver, different from the guys that we have," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after the draft. "He played really in a run-oriented offense and didn't get as many balls as some of the teams that throw the ball all over the yard. He runs real well and plays the ball real well. He makes catches with guys hanging all over him, so we really like that kind of element that he brings to us."
Boldin's presence on the 49ers' roster and the team's affinity for power-oriented offense makes Harper and intriguing pickup for San Francisco. Harper could not have a better mentor than Boldin, who has made it a point to help younger players learn the game. The physical similarities between the players adds to the idea that Harper might have a better shot at developing in San Francisco.
The rivaly between the Seahawks and 49ers adds intrigue to every move the teams make, particularly when those moves involve players moving from one roster to another. We should note that the 49ers have already signed and released former Seattle receivers Ricardo Lockette and Charly Martin. If the Seahawks were determined to keep Harper, they wouldn't have released him. However, Lockette and Martin had been around a while. Harper is just starting out. He hasn't done much to this point, but he's just getting started.