It’s still early, but Josh Johnson is already starting to build a compelling case to win a spot on the San Francisco 49ers 53-man roster.
On Tuesday during the OTAs, the former Oakland Tech standout threw a couple of touchdown passes during a red zone drill and then he caught one, as well. The quarterback was filling in at wide receiver because the 49ers only had four players available at that position.
“They needed me,” explained Johnson, who didn’t want the receivers to do too much running. Then he clarified: “But that’s not what I do. I’m a quarterback.”
Ultimately, that versatility can only be a good thing when head coach Jim Harbaugh makes his final roster decisions. As Johnson pointed out, he’s always “learning something” but he feels more prepared to make the roster this year after getting cut back in 2012.
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“The comfort factor in this offense is a lot smoother right now. I’m an older player, more experienced. So, now I’m just really learning my guys and just taking advantage of every rep that’s given.”
Vernon Davis was nowhere to be found at the team’s training facility in Santa Clara.
The veteran tight end is dissatisfied with his contract situation and has so far been absent from the 49ers’ optional offseason program. That decision has already cost Davis a $200,000 workout bonus. Tight end Vance McDonald would love to see the 30-year-old back on the practice fields.
“He’s just that classic Vernon influence. He’s goofy, goofing off, but when it comes to football he’s always full tilt, but I miss the dude. I’ll be honest.”
Guard Alex Boone, who is also seeking a new deal, wasn’t at the facility on Tuesday either.
Brandon Lloyd hasn’t played in the NFL since 2012, but it sure doesn’t look like that, at least according to his teammates.
Here’s what Patrick Willis had to say about the receiver:
“That guy’s still fast…He’s like a rubber band or something.”
“I remember when we played against him, a few times he got behind our DB’s. But you see him on film, I swear I don’t know how he comes off his start as fast as he does.”
“He’s very athletic. He doesn’t look like he’s missed a year of football at all. I’m glad to have him on the team. I know he’s going to make some plays for us.”
Special team specialist and receiver Kassim Osgood offered the following:
“Brandon Lloyd is on his way. He’s a professional. He’s been around for a while, so he knows what to do, and how to do it. So, it’s fun to be a part of it. He’s a funny guy. He’s got a lot of positive energy to add to the team. He’s jumped right it and just got right back at it.”
Plus, Josh Johnson added:
“Great body language. Smooth. Always in the right spot. Very veteran-like. Engaging with the quarterbacks, at the same time knowing what we’re doing so he can be on the same page. He’s a hell of an athlete. The catches he makes daily, it’s pretty impressive.”
Willis had high praise for the talent assembled on the current roster. When asked if he’d ever seen this much depth on the squad, the linebacker remarked:
“I haven’t. I’m not sure if that’s due to the new CBA or not, but whatever it is, I don’t complain about it. It gets you some rest.”
During special team drills, running back LaMichael James and receiver Devon Wylie handed punt returning duties.
General manager Trent Baalke made an appearance on the practice fields. The team executive shook hands with and talked to a number of players. However, he spent the most time of all with Aldon Smith.