SANTA CLARA –- Outside linebacker Chase Thomas figured his football career might be over when the Green Bay Packers released him in May to sign a new wave of undrafted rookies.
“When Green Bay cut me, I sat on my couch for two weeks,” Thomas said. “It was right after the draft and every team filled up their roster. I wasn’t positive if I’d land anywhere. Luckily, (Jim) Harbaugh and I have a previous relationship and they gave me a shot out here.”
After an impressive training camp, the former Stanford player has spent all season on the 49ers’ practice squad. Harbaugh told CSNBayArea.com on Friday that Thomas has been impressive in practices and could be promoted to the 53-man roster to make his NFL debut on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
Veteran linebacker Dan Skuta has not practiced this week due to an ankle sprain. If Skuta is ruled out, the 49ers will make a roster move Saturday to make Thomas available. Ahmad Brooks, Aaron Lynch and Corey Lemonier are the only other outside linebackers on the team’s roster.
“I’ve been playing pretty well in practice, and yesterday (Thursday) I started taking some special-teams reps,” Thomas said. “So that’s when it really started to show that I could possibly get active.”
As Thomas, 25, packed for the trip to New Orleans on Friday, he admitted to feeling anxious about getting the word on whether he will be in uniform for a regular-season game for the first time.
“It’s part of the business,” he said. “I’m ready to go if it happens.”
Thomas recorded 27.5 sacks during his career at Stanford. As a fifth-year senior in 2012, he was a team captain and first-team All-Pac-12. Thomas was named as one of four finalists for the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy, national defensive player of the year award that places equal weight to personal character and athletic performance.
Thomas went undrafted but signed with the Saints as a rookie free agent. He played two exhibition games with the Saints and two with the Raiders as a rookie before spending most of last season on the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad. But after his short offseason stay with the Packers, Thomas was looking for a new line of work.
Thomas, a communication major, said he was considering getting into commercial real estate or marketing when the 49ers offered him a spot on their 90-man roster. Now, he is just awaiting word on whether he will make his NFL debut on Sunday.
“Plus, I started in New Orleans,” Thomas said. “It would be extra motivation if I got a chance to play in this game. It would be pretty sweet.”