Friday, May 9, 2014
Why Stevie Johnson trade is significant
By Bill Williamson
Here are some thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers trade for receiver Stevie Johnson. The 49ers sent Buffalo a conditional fourth-round pick in 2015 that can become a third-rounder.
The price was right: The compensation for Johnson (who became expendable in Buffalo with the trade up for Sammy Watkins) was minor for a team that wants to win now. Johnson is due $15 million over the next three years. That is doable as well.
Search is over: The 49ers had been looking at veteran receivers all offseason. They were connected to Julian Edelman, Hakeem Nicks, Emmanuel Sanders and DeSean Jackson before getting Johnson. This is an example of general manager Trent Baalke being patient and letting circumstances dictate the right way.
Help for Kaepernick: This is all about getting more options for quarterback Colin Kaepernick. We saw how much more effective and confident Kaepernick was when WR Michael Crabtree came back from an injury last December. It was a different Kaepernick and a different 49ers offense. This gives the offense more options. With Anquan Boldin, Crabtree and Johnson, the 49ers have three receivers who know how to get open and know how to make plays. This offense is much better today than it was yesterday.
Insurance policy: Crabtree is a free agent in 2015 and Boldin is 33. Johnson is 27 and has three more years on his contract.
How it affects the draft: I doubt the 49ers will pick Cody Latimer or Marqise Lee in the second round, but I could see them drafting a speedy receiver. They have a need there and they need youth. Perhaps Robert Herron of Wyoming or Donte Moncrief of Mississippi would fit in the third round.
Veterans who are affected: Second-year receiver Quinton Patton is well liked and he will have a role. Brandon Lloyd, who signed at a team-friendly rate earlier this offseason, will have to have a strong training camp to make the team. He will be 33 and he didn't play last season. Jon Baldwin is likely out of the mix.
New life for Johnson: Johnson didn't have a great year in 2013, but he was affected by injuries, a bad quarterback situation and some family losses. Johnson is still in his prime. He should be re-energized by going to a winner and playing with a quarterback of Kaepernick's caliber. Going back home won't hurt either. Johnson was born in San Francisco and grew up in in nearby Fairfield.
Scout's view: "Do it all receiver that doesn't have one thing he specifically excels at, but a very good football player … Would have preferred a burner, but he's another weapon and a highly productive one at that."