Benched Niners tackle Kwame Harris conflicted about possible departure Print
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Wednesday, 12 September 2007 13:28
NFL Headline News

 SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -Kwame Harris doesn't want to move - not from his longtime home in the Bay Area, and not from his familiar spot on the right end of the San Francisco 49ers' offensive line.
Yet the cerebral right tackle realizes his days with the Niners are numbered after he lost his starting job last month - at the start of the final year of his contract, no less.
Though he hates to leave Silicon Valley after his college career at Stanford and four tumultuous seasons as the lineman that 49ers fans loved to hate, he'll be both disappointed and grateful if the club swings a trade soon.
``I have funny feelings about it,'' Harris said. ``I'm a little all over the place about it. I can't say yes or no. From an economic standpoint, yes, but money can't always be the bottom line. ... I don't think they're actively looking to get rid of me, but at the same time, I think if the right situation came up, they would go for it.''
Harris lost his starting job after the third preseason game to Joe Staley, the Niners' first-round pick. San Francisco then deactivated Harris for Monday night's victory over Arizona, ending his streak of 37 consecutive starts.
Harris understood the decision, since coach Mike Nolan prefers to dress backups who can play more than one position. Harris isn't ready to be the backup left tackle after just recently starting to take snaps at his former position, but he felt strange standing on the sideline while his teammates gritted out a 20-17 win over the Cardinals.
Though he hasn't formally requested a trade, he knows the 49ers are taking calls about his availability. He also knows that sitting on the Niners' bench this season will be poison to his hopes of landing a significant free-agent contract for 2008.
``I've been here for a long time, but somebody told me that life happens in seven-year cycles,'' Harris said Wednesday after another unfamiliar practice as a backup. ``California will always be home, but there's a whole wide world out there to see.''
Harris and his agent keep an eye on injuries around the league these days, even while Harris adjusts to his new role. Their interest was piqued when Washington lost starting right tackle Jon Jansen for the season, but the Redskins apparently haven't made a play for Harris.
``I'm just trying to work on my assignments, getting used to the position, but it's not easy,'' Harris said. ``(On Tuesday) I was sitting by the phone, waiting and getting mentally prepared to be somewhere else.''
Harris, a first-round pick in 2003, started every game over the past two seasons at right tackle after a failed attempt to convert him to left tackle.
Though Harris became a favorite target of fans' ire for his penalty-prone play and an occasional embarrassment in pass protection, his coaches pointed out Harris' outstanding run-blocking as one reason for running back Frank Gore's franchise-record 1,695 yards last season.
Harris would prefer to keep blocking for Gore well into the future, but knows he could be gone at any moment.
``I'm not ambivalent about it, but those aren't decisions I have the power to change,'' he said. ``That's why I'm getting more gray hair.''
 

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