Chris Maragos spent Saturday night in his San Francisco apartment watching his former University of Wisconsin football team stun top-ranked Ohio State at Camp Randall Stadium.
"Oh man, I was wishing more than anything that I could have been on that field playing," said the Horlick High School graduate, an All-Big Ten Conference safety for the Badgers last
A far more substantial wish came true for Maragos Monday afternoon when the San Francisco 49ers promoted him from their practice squad to the 53-man active roster. That means Maragos could be on the
45-man game day roster when the 49ers play the Carolina Panthers Sunday at Charlotte, N.C.
"It's unbelievable," said the 23-year-old Maragos, who signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent April 26 and joined the practice squad shortly after being released Sept. 3. "When you look back on where you started this journey playing in RYS football in second grade all the way through all the trials, through all the different roads the Lord has brought me on to get me to this point, it's very rewarding to know the Lord has had a plan this whole time."
Maragos was informed of the move while watching film with the other 49ers' defensive backs early Monday afternoon. But when Bill Nayes, special assistant to 49ers coach Mike Singletary, poked his head into the meeting room and asked for Maragos and fellow safety Curtis Taylor, Maragos was initially wondering whether he was out of a job.
It wasn't until Nayes said, "You guys aren't in trouble or anything," while walking with the pair to a conference room that Maragos relaxed.
"Once we got up there with the scouts and the pro personnel guys," Maragos said, "they were the ones who told me, ‘Congratulations. We're activating you.'
"To be honest with you, I didn't know if I was being let go. I didn't know what was going on. I was thinking anything could happen."
A position on the 53-man roster opened when Taylor was put on the injured reserve list Monday.
The veteran suffered a torn quadricep Oct. 10 against the
Veteran Dashon Goldson has been the 49ers' starter at free safety, Maragos' natural position. But in addition to providing depth at a position weakened by Taylor's injury and the recent release of Michael Lewis, Maragos has excelled in special teams.
After six weeks on the practice squad, during which he was paid $5,200 a week, Maragos believes he is more prepared to contribute.
"I've been preparing myself mentally as if I've been playing in every game so that when I did get an opportunity like this, I would be ready to play," he said.
An added bonus for Maragos will be potentially making a trip to Lambeau Field Dec. 5 when the 49ers play the Green Bay Packers.
"When you think about possibly playing at Lambeau Field in December, it's something you thought about as a kid," Maragos said. "I grew up obviously a Packers fan being from Wisconsin and to play against the Packers would be a really exciting thing for me."
Does Maragos expect to play Sunday?
"I don't know if it's going to be this game, but, for sure, I'm going to eventually be playing," he said.