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How does Johnson fit in 49ers WR corps?

8/21/2014

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- With his résumé and skill set, Stevie Johnson has the credentials to be a No. 1 receiver on many teams in the NFL. So yeah, there's a reason the San Francisco 49ers acquired him in a draft-day trade.

It's just that with Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin already on the roster, Johnson being Colin Kaepernick's go-to guy was not the team's motive when it shipped a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft to the Buffalo Bills for him.

Rather, Johnson was brought in for depth and he is competing with Brandon Lloyd, Quinton Patton and fourth-round draft pick Bruce Ellington to be the 49ers' third receiver, even if they seldom used three-wideout sets last season.

“I'm pretty sure everybody already knows the bulk of it will be with Crab and Boldin,” Johnson said Wednesday. “So we're just fitting in right after them.”

In fact, to make his case more appealing, Johnson has worked at all three receiver spots in camp.

“[I'm] not necessarily thinking who's going to be out there in certain personnel [groups],” he said, “just, whenever you get your opportunity, let's make it work. Because that's what we're all thinking. We have a lot of great players, a lot of good players that can make plays.

“Everybody can't be on the field at once. So there's going to be times when you're called upon and just, hopefully, you show up.”

That's exactly what Johnson, a seventh-round draft choice of the Bills out of Kentucky in 2008, did with three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons from 2010 to 2012. That's something not even Hall of Famer Andre Reed did in 15 years with the Bills.

Johnson averaged 79 catches, 1,041 yards and eight TD catches in those years, before missing four games last season and finishing with 52 catches for 597 yards and three touchdowns.

“I think we definitely understand how he can fit in," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said of Johnson. “I really believe ... that we just need to keep working to develop the level of chemistry that we want.

“Really happy to have Stevie and I think he'll bring a lot to the table. Have a good feel for his skill set. I love his energy out there and just us as a unit need to continue to work every day to develop that chemistry.”