San Francisco 49ers

Fake! Harbaugh, 49ers will be on high alert vs. Rams’ Hekker

Rams punter Johnny Hekker, No. 6, has completed five of six passes in the last two and half seasons. The one-time quarterback was roommates with Jim Harbaugh’s son, Jay, at Oregon State.
Rams punter Johnny Hekker, No. 6, has completed five of six passes in the last two and half seasons. The one-time quarterback was roommates with Jim Harbaugh’s son, Jay, at Oregon State. AP

SANTA CLARA -- Names like Manning, Brady and Brees may spring to mind when it comes to NFL completion percentage, but the 49ers this week ought to be thinking about Hekker.

That's Rams punter Johnny Hekker, whose arm has been just as dangerous as his leg since Jeff Fisher and his staff arrived in St. Louis in 2012. Hekker, who was a quarterback in high school, has completed five of six passes on fake punts over that span, including a dramatic one that helped beat the Seahawks in Week 7 and two against the 49ers in a single game in 2012.

One of Hekker's passes against San Francisco was thrown from his own goal line and gained 21 yards, proof of how brazen Fisher and Co. can be as far as when and where they will dial up a fake.

“If we think we have an opportunity to do something unusual, then it's really up to me to make that decision,” Fisher said in a conference call Wednesday. “I think you guys know us. We're going to try to win ball games however we can. If it means doing something a little unconventional in that phase of the game, then so be it.”

In their most recent meeting on Oct. 13, the 49ers thwarted a fake-punt attempt with the Rams facing 4thand 15 from their own 27. The Rams offense appeared to be walking off the field, but quarterback Austin Davis never quite made it to the sideline, instead lingering close by so that he could receive a surprise pass from the punter.

The 49ers' Chris Cook noticed Davis and went over to cover him, which forced Hekker to take a delay-of-game penalty.

Fisher said that Hekker regularly throws passes in Rams practices and will be a de facto quarterback during seven-on-seven drills early in the sessions.

The 49ers, of course, will be on full alert Sunday. Their awareness is perhaps heightened by the fact that Jim Harbaugh's son, Jay, was roommates with Hekker when they were at Oregon State.

“So we aware of his ability,” Harbaugh said on KNBR radio earlier this week.

Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.

  Comments