With third tight end Garret Celek doubtful with a hamstring strain, the 49ers today elevated another tight end, Derek Carrier, from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. Carrier is likely to get his first-ever NFL regular-season snaps Sunday against the Saints.
Whereas Celek was used sparingly in the passing game at Michigan State (14 career catches there), Carrier has the opposite college background. He played receiver at Division III Beloit College in Wisconsin where he caught 75 passes for 1,250 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior in 2011. He was used as a wide receiver when the Raiders signed him after the 2012 draft.
When Oakland released Carrier, the Eagles placed him on their practice squad and turned him into a tight end. Carrier this week said running routes and snagging passes remain his specialty, "but I also take pride in blocking and getting the job done at the line."
Beloit doesn't have rich tradition in sending players to the NFL. But Carrier turned heads at his pro-day workout when he ran his 40-yard dash in less than 4.5 seconds, had a 40-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot, 2-inch broad jump and sped through the three-cone drill in 6.69 seconds. To put that three-cone time in perspective: Just one receiver at the combine that year had a better mark.
He is listed at 6-4, 241 pounds. Carrier said he's now closer to 250 pounds. The 49ers added him to the practice squad on Sept. 3. He will wear No. 46, which is Delanie Walker's former number. The team had an open roster spot after cutting Kyle Williams and Perrish Cox earlier in the week.
Another tight end, Vernon Davis, is expected to play following a concussion suffered last week. The 49ers, however, likely will wait until the last possible moment to announce that Davis has been cleared for the game.
-- Matt Barrows