The San Francisco 49ers released their initial depth chart, and while it is compiled by the communications staff as opposed to the coaching staff, it is always an interesting look. I don’t view it as clarifying the coaches’ intentions, but I do think it provides some confirmation of what others are seeing as well.
Dontae Johnson is listed as the starting cornerback opposite Rashard Robinson. Heading into camp, Robinson was the likely starter on one side, and Johnson was viewed as competing with Keith Reaser and Ahkello Witherspoon. Over the past week however, Johnson has been getting extensive first team reps. When Robinson left the team’s open practice over the weekend, Reaser and Witherspoon were the competitors for first team reps, while Johnson played all the first team reps on his side.
On Monday, Johnson picked off a tipped pass and took it to the house for a score. After practice, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was asked what about Johnson sticks out.
“I think Dontae is a very consistent football player. I think he’s very smart. I think he’s technically sound. Dontae for sure is someone who definitely will not get you beat. He’s going to be in position to allow himself to make plays. So, what Dontae is showing over training camp and OTAs is his consistency, and that goes a long way.”
Johnson has always had the size and length, but since gaining a significant role as a rookie three seasons ago, he has seen his defensive playing time decrease each year. The team is moving to a more physical, press style of coverage. Can he claim that starting role opposite Robinson for the length of the season?