Later this week, we’re going to take a deep dive on the San Francisco 49ers’ cornerback position with a whole lot of film study. We’re going to focus on Ahkello Witherspoon and his development, but the biggest story, for now, is the lacking play of Dontae Johnson.
Johnson had a terrible game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and that’s saying a lot given the fact that he had a pick-six. That pick was largely due to the strong positioning of safety Eric Reid, and Johnson just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Without the pick, he was beaten on just about every play and, once again, committed egregious penalties.
For some reason, Johnson isn’t moving well. I have heard nothing about him dealing with an injury of any kind, but he’s so slow at turning around. He’s consistently beaten regardless of what kind of coverage he puts himself in. Man, zone, press, lax — he’s slow to react to everything and I’m not sure why. He has never been great, but he’s hit a wall in a big way over the last few weeks.
On the other hand, Witherspoon allowed three catches for 33 yards on seven balls thrown his way. He also had an interception and a pass breakup. K’Waun Williams, the nickle corner, had an interception, a pass breakup, and just 11 yards allowed in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus.
I’ve always liked Williams as a nickle player, and Witherspoon is turning me into a believer every game. Johnson, on the other hand, loses me more and more every time he does something stupid. Johnson was called for defensive pass interference and illegal use of hands against the Jaguars, both on the same drive that wound up being the drive the Jaguars scored their first touchdown.
It’s pretty safe to say that the 49ers need an upgrade at Johnson’s spot. Tyvis Powell replaced him at one point, while Greg Mabin, who missed the game with injury, was openly battling Johnson for the starting spot in practice prior to the game.