Ignored amid the Alex-Smith-to-Kansas-City hysteria Wednesday was a transaction the 49ers made that was actually official: San Francisco signed wide receiver Joe Hastings.
Missed that one, huh? No worries. Hastings, who played at Division II Washburn University in Topeka, Kan. (nickname: Ichabods), is accustomed to flying under the radar in his perpetual underdog role.
“Really, my whole life that’s been the scenario,” Hastings said. “It’s always been the deck is stacked against you so figure it out. Find a way. That’s just kind of the only way I know.”
As it happens, Hastings, 25, lives in Kansas City, a town that was buzzing Wednesday about the Chiefs’ new quarterback. Hastings is disappointed Smith is exiting just as he’s re-joining the team he spent his rookie season with in 2011.
He exchanged text messages with Smith on Wednesday and will probably meet up with his former teammate when he arrives in Kansas City.
“Everyone I talked to is pretty excited about Alex,” Hastings said. “The thing they don’t know is how great a guy he is. They’ll get to know that as he becomes a part of the community down here. He’s just an awesome guy. I wish he was still going to be in San Francisco.”
After beating some long odds with the 49ers in 2011, Hastings will attempt to reprise his Cinderella story, starting when he reports to the offseason conditioning program April 15. He’s a serious longshot to make the roster, but Hastings, 6-feet and 190 pounds, has been here before.
He was, for example, a walk-on at Washburn who had 32 catches in his first three seasons. When he sustained a torn ACL in 2009, his well-meaning dad gently advised him to ditch his NFL dream.
Instead, Hastings posted school records for receptions and receiving yards as a senior. In 2011, he joined the 49ers as an undrafted free agent, was signed to the practice squad after training camp and landed on the active roster for three games, including two postseason contests.
Last year, he pulled his hamstring early in training camp, missed the first three preseason games and was cut in August.
Joe Hastings signs with 49ers, again
San Francisco Chronicle | Mar 1