Each year, we like to run a series of posts called "90-in-90." The idea is that we'll take a look at every player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few ways. This roster will certainly change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not exactly 90 players in 90 days. At this point, it's a name we're keeping around for street cred.
The San Francisco 49ers parted ways with Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, and Donte Whitner this offseason, opening the door for a lot of new faces in the secondary. One player who will compete to offer some depth in the secondary is Dontae Johnson. The 49ers used a fourth round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft to select Johnson out of N.C. State.
The scouting reports are all pretty similar. Aside from some relatively short arms (31 1/2"), Johnson has all the physical tools. He stands 6'2 and weighed in at 200 pounds at the Combine. He ran a 4.45 40, and generally wowed. The primary negative, and it's kind of a biggy, is that he has a lot of work to do on his technique, and generally learning how to be a defensive back in the NFL.
Johnson played both cornerback and safety in college. In the offseason workout program he focused primarily on cornerback. Given the work he has to do to improve at some of the basics, I could see the 49ers working him in slowly at cornerback, and maybe eventually getting him some more time at safety.
Here are a few scouting reports:
Expected 2014 impact:
Johnson will compete along the outside, but with Tramaine Brock locked in as one starting cornerback, Johnson is left to compete with Chris Culliver and Chris Cook for the other starting job. I would be surprised if Johnson claimed that role, and really, he could end up being a relatively frequent inactive player in his first year. Of course, if Culliver and/or Cook struggle this season, it opens the door for him. Culliver is trying to come back from a torn ACL, and Cook was wildly inconsistent during his time with the Minnesota Vikings.
Odds of making the roster:
A fourth round pick isn't guaranteed a lot of things, but it would be quite the surprise if he did not make the 53-man roster. The real question is how frequently he will be active. If the 49ers decide to get him some time at both cornerback and safety, that could boost his chances. If he focuses strictly on cornerback as a rookie and Cook and Culliver are holding their own, I suspect he will not be active too frequently.