The San Francisco 49ers will likely make some releases to clear salary cap space, and we may have the first one coming down the pike. The team is expected to release wide receiver Stevie Johnson, according to Washington, D.C. NBC reporter Dianna Russini. While Russini tweeted the move would clear $5.5 million in cap room, Jason Hurley and Over The Cap both project this move would save $6,025,000 in cap space.
The 49ers acquired Johnson last May in a trade on day two of the 2014 NFL Draft. They dealt the Buffalo Bills a fourth round pick in this year's draft. It was conditional in that it could turn into a third round pick, but given his relative lack of production and playing time over the course of the season, it is unlikely that it turned into that third.
Johnson was extremely effective in limited time, but unfortunately he was unable to secure significant opportunities for much of the season. He said he suffered a knee injury (I think against the Broncos), and was dealing with that for much of the year. If that is the case, it would explain his limited play, particularly in the second half of the season.
If the move happens, it is a disappointing end to what could have been a very productive opportunity for both sides. This move wold leave the 49ers with Anquan Boldin as their only legitimate veteran wide receiver. Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd will become free agents. That will leave the 49ers with Boldin, Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington, Trindon Holliday and Chuck Jacobs. It is safe to say this boosts the likelihood that the team drafts one or two wide receivers, and/or invests in a free agent receiver.