NFL Insider Jordan Schultz reported that free agent defensive back Lonnie Johnson has fielded interest from the 49ers. There are other teams, and Johnson recently visited the Seahawks, but, obviously, no deal was made.
Johnson was a second round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He only played 165 snaps last year, but 123 of those came at free safety, per Pro Football Focus. Johnson played an additional 182 snaps on special teams, which only helps his value.
Johnson missed extensive time last season due to groin and hamstring injuries. The latter forced him to be placed on the injured reserve on Week 11. At 27, this would be San Francisco buying low on the former No. 54 overall pick.
The year prior with the Houston Texans gives us a better idea of Johnson’s skill set. In 542 snaps, 317 came at free safety. But each of those came from Week’s 2 through 8. Johnson played 148 snaps at cornerback from Week’s 12 through 15. Versatility is king in the NFL, and knowing how the 49ers have suffered injuries in the secondary, Johnson would bring immediate value.
In 2021, Johnson allowed a 54 percent completion percentage on 24 targets. He also surrendered a pair of touchdowns, but had three pass breakups and three interceptions. Unfortunately, miss tackles have been an issue his entire career, as he has only been below 20 percent just once.
San Francisco would hope to get similar production from Johnson at a premium position in Steve Wilks’ defense. He’d compete with Tashaun Gipson, and I think his contract, if he were to sign, would signal as much.