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49ers Rookies: Dontae Johnson prospect profile

We take a look at fourth round 49ers draft pick, cornerback Dontae Johnson.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers decided to draft a cornerback at the tail end of round four, a corner of the Seattle Seahawks variety, tall and quick. NC State cornerback Dontae Johnson had an impressive combine, having numbers that popped out, be it in drills or just his measurables alone. While he had a good combine and did well in drills, his tape leaves a lot to be desired. Potential is there, but he's quite raw with a lot to work on. The good news is he was drafted by a great San Francisco 49ers organization that has coaches that will put him in the best situation to improve.

The Basics

Name: Dontae Johnson
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 200 lbs
Arm Length: 31.5"
Vertical: 38.5"
Broad Jump: 124.0 inches
Forty Yard Dash: 4.45
Bench Reps: 12

  • Tackling: Johnson is a willing tackler who doesn't shy away from contact as some cornerbacks do. He's still not completely fundamentally sound in this regard but where he lacks in tackling ability he makes up for in effort and shear strength.
  • Downhill speed: Johnson can close in on a defender in a hurry when he's able to get his long legs moving with a little green pasture in front of him. This will bode well if he's converted to Safety full time or will be an asset to have in stopping the run at cornerback.
  • Frame: Johnson has room to get stronger, and with that he could become a better press-corner. He didn't play much press in college and when he did his technique was mediocre and he didn't extend his long arms and use his strength. When evaluating a player it's important to look at potential, which is why I consider this a pro.
  • Loose Hips: Turning his body is not a problem, and for a man who is 6'2" with speed it's impressive that they aren't stiff at all
  • Has played safety, nickel cornerback, and on special teams
  • Penalties: There's not much tape to go around of Johnson, but what is available he makes a few obvious pass interference penalties, all because he was either out of position or getting beat on the play.
  • Coverage Ability: This is a big con and one that encompasses many facets of the cornerback position. In almost all aspects of being a cornerback, Johnson has a lot of work to do. At NC State he rarely played close up to the receiver and it is obvious his awareness at the position is lacking. On most plays the receiver is wide open (or close to it) whether he runs or streak or cuts a route inside. The film below, he takes on Sammy Watkins, and on almost every play Johnson is beat badly. The kind of space Johnson allows will not be acceptable in the NFL, quarterbacks will pick on him each and every play. The good news is this could be mental and with more film study and practice these issues could be corrected.
  • Play Diagnosis: His recognition appears to be a bit slow which leads to Johnson being flat-footed and out of position in run-coverage as well as pass-coverage.
Do Your Homework:

What They Are Saying

- Johnson reminds his position coach of Aqib Talib.


Johnson is a project that could pay dividends down the road, but not now. He isn't ready to have a spot on the 53 man roster unless he makes tremendous strides in a short amount of time. Right now I view him as a practice squad candidate with the potential to make the roster at some point this season as a reserve and special teams contributor. He isn't ready currently to take the field as a cornerback, Coach Donatell will have to teach him the nuances of being a true press-corner before that can happen, and that takes time. His frame can allow him to become stronger, and if he is to have success in the league he must play press coverage or convert to safety. Hopefully the 49ers are able to stash him on the practice squad without him being claimed by another team.