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49ers, Raiders expected to duke it out for Trumaine Johnson

Hopefully the 49ers don’t overpay, but beating the Raiders is always fun, isn’t it?

The San Francisco 49ers will likely be interested in cornerback Trumaine Johnson when free agency begins — that’s no surprise. They have a need at the position, and Johnson would fill it. We don’t do a lot of reporting on what a lot of NFL Combine analysts say because ... let’s just say there are a lot of motives out there.

But one I respect is Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst, who reported a couple days ago that the 49ers and Oakland Raiders were going to be two of the biggest players in on Johnson when free agency opens. He also noted that the 49ers “could trump the crosstown rival Oakland Raiders due to their extra salary cap space.”

Johnson has earned a lot of money playing on the franchise tag these past two seasons. He shouldn’t make that much per year over the course of a normal contract, though, so I hope the 49ers don’t sling the salary cap space around recklessly. That said, most of the “big” deals they’ve done under John Lynch have included plenty of team-friendly provisions and clauses and options.

Of course, Johnson isn’t perfect by any means. In 2017, he had 60 tackles, two interceptions and nine passes defensed. Pro Football Focus gave him a catch percentage of 57.3 on passes thrown his way, with 51 receptions allowed on 89 targets. But the one touchdown allowed is key — he rarely makes huge mistakes, and that’s why I like him.

How does everyone else feel about him? The 49ers just beat the Raiders in the coin toss, and they can certainly beat them in a bidding war, but I hope it doesn’t come down to that.