The 49ers re-introduced the fullback position with the signing of Kyle Juszczyk and he just might be the best one in the league. Behind Juszczyk isn’t much depth at all. That’s where Malcolm Johnson comes in. Originally a tight end, Johnson was drafted out of Mississippi State by the Cleveland Browns with a sixth round pick. He was moved to fullback and has played the position ever since. In his rookie season he got sent to the practice squad and eventually got called up to the 53-man roster. He got two years with Cleveland before being released and spent 2016 on the practice squad of the Seattle Seahawks. In 2017 he didn’t even play football.
Johnson’s background in the tight end position would give him good emergency depth if something happened with that department, but that’s also who they use to replace Juszczyk—and Celek/Kittle can do just fine. Being out of football for a year is not the greatest thing for your value either.
Age: 25 (turns 26 August 11th)
Experience: two accrued seasons
Weight: 231 pounds
He signed a futures/reserves contract at the start of 2018. The deal gives him a salary of $630,000
What to expect in 2018
Johnson will be coming into training camp, but given the usage of the fullback position and the 49ers having better options at tight end to use in case of emergency, there’s not much to expect out of Johnson. He’s been out of football for a year and in Cleveland didn’t impress, forcing them to waive him midway into the second season of his four-year deal.
Odds of making the roster
The 49ers fullback depth chart is this: Kyle Juszczyk and Malcolm Johnson. Given the usage of the fullback role, only one of those two is seeing the field. And fullback depth isn’t exactly a necessity; Last year when Juszczyk went down, the 49ers would pull tight ends to pick up the slack and did just fine. So it’s not like they need a dedicated fullback to fill the role. That said, the depth chart is just Juszczyk and Johnson, and maybe the 49ers would rather not shuffle things up and use Johnson when disaster strikes to either Juszczyk or the tight end group (remember, Johnson came out of college as a tight end). That disaster would only be a season-ending injury to Juszczyk or a number of tight ends. Johnson is getting a Game 4 start in the preseason and won’t be on the 53-man roster on gameday. The 49ers just have too many other positions to suit up, and have enough alternate plans that Johnson won’t be needed.