The San Francisco 49ers acquired veteran wide receiver Stevie Johnson this off-season. It was presumed at the time that he would slot in nicely as their third wideout, providing Colin Kaepernick a much better option behind Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin than he has had in the last couple seasons.
That plan has been turned on its head somewhat by the emergence of Quinton Patton at wide receiver. In the team’s third preseason game, the “dress rehearsal” game, as it were, it was Patton and not Johnson who lined up with the starters. Besides wondering if the third receiver spot might be occupied by somebody else, this even led to speculation that Johnson could be cut.
Not so, says head coach Jim Harbaugh, who also has not made a decision yet about the third wide receiver spot on the depth chart.
According to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area:
The 49ers’ plan at the No. 3 receiver remains a mystery — even, apparently, to quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“That’ll be a coaches decision,” Kaepernick said Tuesday. “Whoever’s out there, I’ll be throwing to them.”
…Coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday he “feels good” about Johnson’s spot on the 53-man roster. And Kaepernick spoke highly of Johnson’s ability to get open.
“He’s quick,” Kaepernick said. “Not too many DBs get their hands on him. He has a great ability to create space in routes.”
As far as votes of confidence for slot receivers go, those bode fairly well for Johnson. He might not necessarily be the third receiver in terms of the depth chart, but it sounds like Johnson will make the team and be in the mix for the 49ers this season.
Johnson is coming off a 2013 season in which he caught 52 passes for 597 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games.