How 49ers rookie Tim Harris is adjusting to life in NFL, in Bay Area


SANTA CLARA -- 49ers rookie Tim Harris Jr. attended college fewer than 100 miles from his high school. The cornerback went to Varina High School just outside of Richmond and played for the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, spending his formative years in the commonwealth.

Naturally, one difference already has stood out to Harris during his short time in Santa Clara.

“Probably the weather,” Harris told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday at the 49ers’ practice facility. “Beautiful day. What's today, like, 75, 80, no humidity? Back at home, it's probably 95, 100 percent humidity.”

Harris was off by a few percentage points, but his point was understood. The Santa Clara heat doesn’t hit the same as the muggy summers on the east coast.

But the 24-year-old has had to learn about more than just the local climate in his transition to the NFL. After season-ending injuries in what would have been his senior seasons at Virginia in both 2016 and 2017, Harris finally is getting a chance in the professional ranks after the 49ers selected him No. 198 overall in the sixth round of April’s draft.

Harris was third in line for reps at cornerback Thursday, but said he expects to see the field a lot in Saturday’s preseason opener at Levi’s Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys. Many regulars are expected to sit out, opening the door for Harris to take significant reps in his first professional game.

“I'm excited,” Harris said. “I know when I go out there [and] go in warm-ups and stuff, I'll be like, 'Whoa, I'm really about to play in the game.' But once I get out there, I'll be fine."

Like most rookies, Harris still is learning on the job. He has observed the work his veteran teammates put into preparing their bodies for a long NFL season and still is adjusting to the speed of the pro ranks.

During 11-on-11 walkthrough Thursday, Harris received instruction from his teammates and coaches as his wide receiver motioned across the offensive formation. In addition to knowing the 49ers’ defensive playbook, he also has had to learn to recognize the offense’s plays.

Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon was in Harris’ cleats two summers ago, and said keeping up with coach Kyle Shanahan’s complex offense was a challenge in and of itself as a rookie.

“Just the speed and everything moving, all the moving parts,” Witherspoon said of going against Shanahan’s offense in camp as a rookie. “But really at the end of the day, you’ve got to guard the man in front of you, but you just don’t know where that guy is all the time.”

[RELATED: How Tarvaris Moore embraces challenge of moving back to safety]

Harris has relied on the 49ers’ veterans to help him acclimate. He reconnected with Richard Sherman after first meeting him at a football camp in high school, and said veteran cornerback Jason Verrett has been particularly helpful in camp.

The rookie will lean on that insight in his bid for a spot on the 53-man roster or the practice squad. After all, he wants to enjoy the Bay Area’s summers for a while.

"Nah, I don't,” Harris laughed when asked if he missed the summer humidity back home. “I would stay out here as long as I can. I'd live out here forever."

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