Chris Conley

Conley excited for chance to contribute in 49ers' latest playoff run

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SANTA CLARA — In the 49ers' 24-21 divisional-round win over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday, Chris Conley stepped up when the team needed him most. 

With Deebo Samuel sidelined for much of the game due to a shoulder injury, the veteran wide receiver took advantage of his opportunity by making an impactful 17-yard reception in the San Francisco's game-winning drive.

“Sometimes you don’t know going into a week what you’re going to be playing, and you find out during the game, kind of like today,” Conley said after the game. “Just being prepared, studying all three spots, just being ready to go if anything happens.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan has leaned on both Conley and fellow veteran Willie Snead IV several times throughout the 2023 NFL season on offense and special teams. The experience of both receivers gives the Shanahan confidence that the level of play will not drop if one of the starters can not return to the game.

“A ton,” Shanahan said Monday via conference call. “That’s why guys like him and Willie Snead are here. It comes up. You never know when. It came up last year for us too with Willie. Then having both of them this year, and they’ve both done it in different games throughout the year for us.

“That was a big-time play that Chris made in that game.”

Conley has appeared in eight games for the 49ers this season. And with Jauan Jennings returning from several weeks in the NFL’s concussion protocol, Conley was ready for his number to be called.

“I can’t speak to it specifically, but we have complicated game plans and my job is to study everybody else’s job,” Conley said. “So when things are complicated, sometimes they call on me to do it because they know that I know it.” 

Conley was drafted in the third round (No. 76 overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. The Georgia product has spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans and the Tennessee Titans, and actually considered the possibility of retirement before heading to the Bay Area in 2023.

“I definitely have grappled with it,” Conley said. “I’ve had people tell me that maybe it was time to move on or do something different, but when I came here, I just asked for an opportunity to compete and do anything. They were gracious enough to give me an opportunity on special teams, and I got an opportunity and then got the job.”

Conley was on the field for 25 offensive plays on Saturday, including a key block on Packers cornerback Keisean Nixon to help spring Christian McCaffrey on his 39-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Conley is just grateful for the chance to contribute.

“When I was given the opportunity here, I just put everything into it for these guys,” Conley said. 

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