49ers: expected to part with WR Johnson
Brought in last year as the 49ers worked to build up their receiving corps, Steve Johnson split No. 3 duties with Brandon Lloyd behind Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree, finishing just behind Lloyd, fourth in total snaps in the group with 305 on the season. Letting Johnson go could free up more than $6m of cap space.
Johnson was only targeted 49 times but brought in 35 of them for 435 yards and three touchdowns, leading to a 102.0 passer rating on throws his way (28th in league). The majority of his work was done in the first half of the season, earning a +7.8 overall grade through Week 7 and seeing most of his chances in that span – 31 targets in those games as opposed to just 18 from that point on. His season effectively ended in Week 14 as he was counted out for each of the final three contests with a knee injury.
A joy to watch as a route runner, Johnson’s creativity and ability to work for leverage on coverage defenders sets him apart and his 2.13 Yards Per Route Run in limited work last season still ranked among the league’s Top 20 receivers. Running only 33% of his routes from the slot in SF (Boldin dominated that role) but more than 70% in his final season in Buffalo, Johnson could find a fit in that spot at his next stop.