The San Francisco 49ers briefly swapped out Dontae Johnson this past Sunday, moving Greg Mabin into the starting lineup in the second half. Johnson had a rough day against DeAndre Hopkins, and it appears it has opened the door for some competition.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh met with the media on Thursday, and was asked if Johnson was still his starter. Saleh said Johnson and Mabin would be working through practice, and they will both play a lot of football this week.
Saleh clarified that he did not view what happened Sunday as a benching for Johnson. He said it was, “Just give him a breather — just relax, calm down, you’ll be fine.” He said the plan was to get him back in the game, but it happened sooner than expected when Ahkello Witherspoon injured his knee.
Mabin has been on the 53-man roster the past five weeks, but following the bye he started to see some defensive playing time. He got burned coming in as an injury replacement against the Bears, but then put together a decent enough showing last week against the Texans.
With three weeks remaining and plenty of turnover expected at the cornerback position this offseason, the more competition the better. Saleh was asked about the inactives decisions each week, and while much of it was based on the strengths and weaknesses of their opponent, they also wanted to get some film together for players. With several free agents in the offseason, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, the more film available for evaluation, the better.