Friday, May 3, 2013

49ers sign former Boise State running back DJ Harper to an already crowded backfield

Former Boise State running back D.J. Harper has agreed to a free agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers after going undrafted in the recently completed NFL Draft.

Harper, who rushed for 1,137 yards and 15 touchdowns last season for Boise State, posted news of his signing on Twitter before later confirming it during a phone interview with the Press-Tribune.

“Obviously I would have liked to have heard my name called but once it got to the later rounds, I would rather pick my place and find the best opportunity,” Harper said. “After talking with the coaches with San Francisco, I feel good about it. It’s a great opportunity and a really good situation.”

Harper said he was pretty sure he’d accept the 49ers offer shortly after the draft, but waited until Monday morning to sign the paperwork and make it official.

It figures to be tough sledding for Harper to make a San Francisco roster that already includes running backs Frank Gore, LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter. The 49ers also used a fifth-round pick on injured, but talented back Marcus Lattimore.

But Harper doesn’t appear worried about the challenge ahead of him. He’s embracing it.

“They have a lot of good backs but just talking to them, they wanted to add me,” Harper said. “They wanted me. They assured me that I have a fair chance of competing. I believe in my skills as well. Like at Boise State, you can’t have too many running backs."

“It’s definitely something I’m not going to shy away from. I’ve always had to work to get into a good situation. Nothing has ever been given to me. I had to compete against Doug Martin, and Ian Johnson at Boise State. I had to compete the same way in high school. I’ll never back down from the challenge. It’s a challenge but I’m excited for it.”

Harper is believed to be one of the only players in college football history to score multiple touchdowns in six consecutive seasons after redshirting twice following serious knee injuries early in 2009 and 2010.

He rushed for 2,779 yards and 39 touchdowns on 547 carries during his six years at Boise State, an average of more than five yards per carry.

Harper is currently back home in Texas but will report to San Francisco a few days ahead of the start of their rookie minicamp on May 9.

“It’s a great organization,” Harper said. “And a great opportunity to compete. I’m ready.”

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