One young San Francisco 49ers player I'm excited about is cornerback Dontae Johnson. I thought Johnson, like Jimmie Ward, was thrown into the fire as a rookie and the immediate results were relatively disastrous. But unlike Ward, who showed no real progression throughout the season, I thought Johnson primarily improved from week to week, especially when the 49ers used him outside.
I'm not sure Johnson is any good at all from the nickel, but he was solid outside and given the fact that he probably didn't expect to play much at all as a rookie, I thought he did quite well. Johnson is right in the thick of things in the battle for a starting spot this training camp, and he's definitely a guy to look out for.
Lost in the fray among news about Levi's Stadium's incredibly poor field and the sad situation that is Aldon Smith was this post from CBS Sports. It's part of a series called "Ready to Play," and Johnson was featured in this week's edition. The series is described as a first-hand account from players on "how they get themselves ready for all the rigors that come with competing at the NFL level."
There's nothing particularly groundbreaking here, but it is always interesting to hear a little bit more from the players outside of the usual stuff we get from press conferences. Johnson notes in the piece that his mindset is completely different this season because he's competing for a starting role, but that at the end of the day he's more comfortable this time around and that can be huge.
Johnson noted a few players that he leaned on "after being thrown into the fire," and among them are Perrish Cox and Patrick Willis, two veterans who are no longer with the team this season. Fortunately, he also cites Antoine Bethea as a mentor, and Bethea is one of the best players remaining on this roster.
He also talks about the kind of food that's good to get in you before something as intense as an NFL game, his pre-workout routine, his studying routines and a bunch more so be sure to check it out. I'd love something like this that's more in video form, without being as cheesy as Hard Knocks, but I doubt something like that is coming any time soon. Let's all hope Johnson is prepared to win one of those starting roles this season.