The 49ers offense has been struggling of late. I'm here to pose a question that could move things in the right direction... should the 49ers use Stevie Johnson more? Matt Maiocco tweeted a couple things on the subject, and the numbers don't lie, Stevie has been playing great this season.
According to @PFF, 49ers Stevie Johnson is No. 2 in NFL among WRs with 3.07 receiving yards per route run. Michael Crabtree is 59th at 1.33.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) November 4, 2014
With limited opportunities seeing the field every week, Johnson makes the most out of the opportunities he is given. He has made countless clutch catches on third down. He quickly gets open with regularity, giving Colin Kaepernick a reliable option when a blitz is bearing down on him. While Johnson doesn't have "burner" speed, he doesn't have a problem getting yards after the catch.
Michael Crabtree has had a disappointing season to this point, even admitting he isn't where he wants to be. The stats show Johnson has been more effective, and his numbers would be a lot higher if he was on the field more. Johnson has caught 28 of 37 (75.7%) of passes thrown his way, compared to 37 of 60 (61.7%) hauled in from Crabtree. The numbers across the board seem to indicate Johnson being on the field more will lead to a more productive offense.
This is an opportunity for the 49ers to use the "hot hand" approach and get Stevie on the field more, he's earned it. Week to week there should be competition from this wideout corps, and who performs best should be rewarded for their play. Stevie Johnson is a weapon, and he's been a humble player this season, not causing a fuss about playing time when many other receivers of his caliber would be. Crabtree will improve this season, but he must earn some of his playing time back. Hopefully he will be humble and have a team mindset if Johnson eats into his snaps.
Right now, it should be a closer split of snaps between Johnson and Crab, with Johnson also spelling Anquan Boldin now and then to keep his legs fresh. Currently, Crabtree has played over 100 percent more snaps and if Stevie continues to produce how can he not be on the field more?
When I've watched a game this year, when the ball is thrown Johnson's way I have confidence he will get the job done and then some. When there's been a key third down this year, I hope the ball goes to Johnson, because he's already proven to be a clutch go-to target in key moments. Those clutch moments will only increase if his snap count does.
What do you guys think?