NFL

Bigger role for Byham

FOX Sports David White, Chronicle Staff Writer, The San Francisco Chronicle (California)
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Rookie tight end Nate Byham isn't a secret at 6-foot-4 and 264 pounds.

That won't keep the 49ers from trying to sneak their secret weapon into the open field Sunday against the Eagles at Candlestick Park.

"I don't have that many catches, so there's a chance they'll say, 'Don't worry about that big guy over there' and I can pop open," Byham said.

It's worked four times for 20 receiving yards so far for Byham, a blocking tight end who will play more with receiving tight end Delanie Walker out with a high ankle sprain.

Byham doesn't have Walker's vertical speed - perhaps not even with Walker on crutches and a protective boot - but he'll get lots of his snaps in the 49ers' two-tight end offense.

For a guy with little speed, Byham has caught up to speed with the team's route system after just 10 catches as a college senior.

"He's not going to run with the ball like Delanie Walker," offensive coordinator Mike Johnson said. "But he can make sure they can't just say he's a fullback and then disregard him."

Homecoming king: Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson had six catches for 140 yards last season against the 49ers, who passed on the Cal star twice in the 2008 draft.

What's next for the vertical threat who leads the NFL with 21.1 yards per catch?

"Hopefully, I can rack up some more stats and get a win," Jackson said.

Tagged: Eagles, 49ers, Delanie Walker, Nate Byham

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