Dontae Johnson shouldn’t be done with the San Francisco 49ers because he failed to cover DeAndre Hopkins, one of the absolute best receivers in the league. But he did have an exceptionally poor game against Hopkins, far beyond the scope of what generally applies as a “bad game.”
Johnson was soundly beaten in every aspect of his game on Sunday. He was woefully out of place, falling for the same exact move from Hopkins not once or twice, but nearly 10 times. Every adjustment that was presumably made by Robert Saleh to account for this, Hopkins still burned Johnson.
He didn’t succeed in press coverage. He didn’t succeed when backed further up. He looked slow, clumsy and lost. I’m a fan of what Johnson has done in the past, but he was out of his element and out of his league on Sunday.
We took a look at Johnson’s first half already. Now we’re going to look at his third quarter, which is actually just a single drive.
15:00 in 3rd Quarter, 1st and 10 from HOU 25: Yates pass short left to Hopkins for 15 yards, defensive pass interference on Johnson, declined
Bottom of the screen, Johnson tries to play close, and he does an OK job with sticking to Hopkins initially. But he can’t get his hips around fast enough, and has to resort to defensive pass interference. Despite that, Hopkins catches the pass anyway, and for a healthy gain. The 49ers’ pass rush is also doing a decent job of collapsing the pocket, but Yates has enough time to get the ball away.
12:55 in 3rd Quarter, 2nd and 10 from SF 44: Yates pass short left to Hopkins for 9 yards
Here, Johnson tries to play off the line, and Hopkins, as he’d already done several times, simply turns on his curl and catches a pass for a modest gain. What really gets me isn’t that Johnson wasn’t fast enough to turn and stick with Hopkins, it’s how unbelievably slow he turned. He actually stops moving he’s so slow to get his hips around.
12:22 in 3rd Quarter, 3rd and 1 from SF 35: Yates pass incomplete to Hopkins, penalty on Johnson, defensive pass interference, accepted
Johnson tries to jam up Hopkins on the line, and he fails. Hopkins tries to turn around to catch a pass and Johnson hangs onto him, eventually pushing him. Hopkins definitely gamed things a little bit and probably didn’t need to fall down, but Johnson most definitely committed a penalty. This was his third penalty of the game — the first two were completed passes anyway.
12:18 in 3rd Quarter, 1st and 10 from SF 29: Yates pass deep left to Hopkins for 29 yards, TOUCHDOWN
Johnson is at the bottom of the screen, and is the only outside player. There is literally nobody he can cover but Hopkins going to the left corner of the end zone, and that’s right where Hopkins goes. And Johnson is too slow to get himself around and make a play. Johnson doesn’t even go for the ball in the air because he’s so out of position. Yes, that safety over the middle is also partially to blame, but Johnson effectively took himself out of this play on his own. Hopkins barely had to do anything.