The goal with Harper was for him to fill the void created by Mike Williams release during last year's off-season. That is, a big-bodied receiver who can go up and get the ball in traffic. At times last year, there were moments where a Williams sort of receiver was missed (the week one loss to Arizona, for example), and even with Golden Tate's amazing jump ball ability and Zach Miller's late season emergence, a big receiver seemed like a necessity in the off-season. Harper was never meant to be a receiver with great speed or separation.
Throughout the preseason though, he began to look less and less like Mike Williams' successor as once he got to the ball, he just couldn't catch it. And, the void suddenly didn't seem as large with the revelation of Stephen Williams and his ability to catch anything, coupled with breakaway speed.
Harper still had a lot of potential though and represented a great developmental player. So, the Seahawks placed him on the practice squad. He had cleared waivers and it looked like he was safe.
Alas, the 49ers swept in and snatched him away. It was a move not seen by many and one that could definitely be construed as a negative. Our third selection of the draft, once a great prospect and who could be further developed on the practice squad, now suddenly in the hands of our division rival who will undoubtedly try to use all his potential against us.
It looks bad, but it can be seen as a positive.
When a player is selected from your practice squad by another team, it is a compliment. Players on your practice field, not good enough to make your 53-man roster, are good enough for another team's respective roster. It shows what great depth your team has and, in this particular case, it demonstrates just how weak the 49ers' receiving core currently is. While there is no doubt they are a great team, it is alarming how Harper is suddenly a necessary piece for their success.
After Anquan Boldin, the only receivers on their roster to have ever caught a pass in the NFL are Jon Baldwin, Kyle Williams and Marlon Moore. Not exactly the most intimidating set of receivers.
No, the signing of Chris Harper was definitely necessary for the 49ers and is definitely a positive for the Seahawks.
If Chris Harper, a developmental player, warrants a spot on the 49ers roster, then the Legion of Boom will have no trouble handling the 49ers receiving corps this year.