In college, wide receiver Eric Rogers was a record-breaker. He set school marks for receptions, yards and scoring. He also was a triple jumper good enough to reach the NCAA championship meet and finish third in 2011.
But that college was Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks and Rogers’ competition was in the NCAA’s Division III ranks, so despite his production, size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) and athletic ability, Rogers wasn’t drafted into the NFL. And, when he tried out with the Dallas Cowboys in 2013, he quickly was cut.
But now Rogers is the newest member of the San Francisco 49ers after an excellent stint in the Canadian Football League, and he’s an intriguing prospect for new head coach Chip Kelly.
Last season while playing for the Calgary Stampeders, Rogers had 87 catches for 1,448 yards and 10 touchdowns. He makes a big target, and his experience in the wide-open CFL may help him negotiate Kelly’s wide-open, fast-paced style of play.
Michael David Smith of NBC’s Pro Football Talk reports 16 NFL teams brought Rogers, 24, in for a visit in recent months, with the 49ers signing him for a $125,000 signing bonus and $100,000 in guaranteed salary.
Rogers’ journey to the NFL took him to the Arena Football League and the CFL – where he was a league All-Star. Though he found success in Canada, he was eager to come south and find a job in the NFL.
“I want to give myself that opportunity to see if I can work it out down south and see what happens,” he told the Calgary Sun recently. “As a kid, you always want to play at the highest level. I’ve already experienced it one time, so it’s nothing unfamiliar. If it does happen, I’ll be excited and, I think, I’ll be better for it because I already went through it one time so I know what to expect and what to work on.”