How Dontae Johnson Fits with the San Francisco 49ers

Peter Panacy@@PeterPanacyFeatured Columnist IVMay 10, 2014

NC State cornerback Dontae Johnson adds depth to San Francisco's secondary.
NC State cornerback Dontae Johnson adds depth to San Francisco's secondary.Chuck Burton/Associated Press

The San Francisco 49ers obviously felt the need to add further depth to their secondary when they added North Carolina State cornerback Dontae Johnson with their second pick in Round 4, No. 129 overall.

At 6'2" and 195 pounds, Johnson provides the ideal size becoming more popular in NFL secondaries—especially in the physical NFC West.

The 49ers cornerback group was probably the weakest link on their venerable defense. While the addition of safety Jimmie Ward in Round 1 provides some added bulk, other questions still remained.

Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver figure to compete for the Nos. 1 and 2 cornerback positions, respectively. Behind them, San Francisco now has Ward, Eric Wright, Chris Cook and Perrish Cox. It is a decent, if not particularly inspiring, corps.


Size is the ideal fit here. The 49ers are looking to add a large corner who fits the mold of players like Richard Sherman in order to bulk up their secondary.

Additionally, Johnson possesses adequate speed—having ran a 4.41 at the combine, per his profile on CBS Sports.

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He also has good reach.

An added bonus, which is combined with his size, is his physicality. CBS Sports' Pete Prisco had this to say about him:

Johnson is long, lean and physical, and could be a steal here for the Niners at 129. A true press corner who utilizes violent, active hands at the line, and who offers some versatility to rotate inside at safety. He´s vulnerable over the top though, and gambles too often. He's raw, but has nice upside.

When put into the correct situation, Johnson may wind up being a viable part of San Francisco's secondary depth.

Johnson (right) is vulnerable over the top, thus requiring some further development at the NFL level.
Johnson (right) is vulnerable over the top, thus requiring some further development at the NFL level.Nick Wass/Associated Press


As Prisco mentions, Johnson is raw. Because of this, Johnson is an outsider to make a significant leap on San Francisco's depth chart entering his rookie season. 

The tendency to get beat over the top is another concern, which forces the 49ers to consider other defensive options on the field when they are matched up against faster receivers.

These raw attributes will likely set Johnson back, at least at the early portion of his NFL career. He will have to show his abilities as being worthwhile enough to warrant consideration in San Francisco's nickel and dime packages.

But as far as depth is concerned, this is still a great pick.

Final Thoughts

When placed into the right situation, Johnson has the potential to become something worthwhile for the 49ers defense.

So what exactly will these situations be?

According to Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee, Johnson will likely be slated into press-based schemes. This falls right in line with what defensive coordinator Vic Fangio likes to do.

Additionally, Johnson provides some flexibility by being able to line up at the safety position. San Francisco already has depth there, but the versatility is never a bad thing.

At the outset, he probably is not a favorite to be listed high on San Francisco's depth chart. But if his rawness and shortcomings get coached up enough, there is a good chance Johnson develops into the mold of large, tough cornerbacks so touted in today's NFL.

As always, be sure to stay tuned to this author's coverage and analysis of each 49ers pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the San Francisco 49ers. Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.

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