Tight end Jim Dray has been in the NFL for seven seasons, has suited up for three teams and played for five offensive coordinators. But he’s never worked in a system like Chip Kelly’s.
“Completely different,” said Dray, whom the 49ers signed on Monday. “I’ve never not huddled. Not calling plays, just looking over to the sideline – I feel like I’ve run the gamut all seven years I’ve been around. I’ve seen a lot offenses, but I’ve never been in one like this. It’s kind of exciting.”
The 49ers signed Dray, 29, to replace Blake Bell, who went on injured reserve after hurting his shoulder Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Bell replaced Vance McDonald, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury the previous week against the New York Jets.
Dray, who played at Stanford under former coach Jim Harbaugh, must cram for what could be a significant role – at least for someone who arrived on short notice – Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams.
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Dray has company. In the last two weeks, a wave of injuries has forced the 49ers to sign five newcomers. In particular, Dray and inside linebacker Carl Bradford could get a lot of snaps if there are more injuries.
I’ve never not huddled. Not calling plays, just looking over to the sideline – I feel like I’ve run the gamut all seven years I’ve been around. I’ve seen a lot offenses, but I’ve never been in one like this. It’s kind of exciting.
Jim Dray, 49ers tight end, on coach Chip Kelly’s offense
Dray was a seventh-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2010 and played four seasons with them, meaning he’s familiar with the two NFC West opponents – the Rams and Seattle Seahawks – remaining on the 49ers’ schedule.
He was released by the Buffalo Bills in early October and spent the last 2 1/2 months training in Scottsdale, Ariz., and at Stanford, hoping another team would come calling.
“I’ve been trying to tell myself that I’m still in it, still in the game,” he said. “I’m sure it will be clear once that time is up. But I don’t think it’s that time yet.”
Injury report – Offensive tackle Joe Staley (hamstring), wide receiver Torrey Smith (concussion), center Marcus Martin (ankle) and safety Dontae Johnson (groin) did not practice Wednesday.
When Martin left Sunday’s game, Zane Beadles moved from left tackle to center and rookie John Theus, a fifth-round choice, stepped in at left tackle and played 13 snaps.
Kelly said the team still thinks Staley and Smith can play in one of the final two games.
I’ve been trying to tell myself that I’m still in it, still in the game. I’m sure it will be clear once that time is up. But I don’t think it’s that time yet.
Jim Dray, 49ers tight end
Et cetera – Kelly said wide receiver Quinton Patton had surgery this week for a broken foot. Cornerback Jimmie Ward broke his collarbone against the Falcons. Both went on injured reserve.
▪ The 49ers signed offensive lineman Andrew Gardner and waived offensive lineman Josh Allen, whom they signed last week. Gardner, 30, spent the last two seasons with Kelly with the Philadelphia Eagles.
▪ In a vote by reporters who cover the team, safety Antoine Bethea won the annual Garry Niver Award, which goes to the player who is the most professional and available to the media.