49ers grab speedy WR Marcus Johnson to bolster offense

Marcus Johnson #88 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Marcus Johnson #88 of the Tennessee Titans (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Still needing to find a deep-threat wide receiver, the 49ers are hoping former Titans and Colts wideout Marcus Johnson can fit the bill.

One of the elements still missing from the San Francisco 49ers offense heading into 2022 was a pure deep threat.

Sure, the Niners already boast two high-quality wide receivers in Brandon Aiyuk and the 2021 first-team All-Pro, Deebo Samuel, both of whom have some solid separation skills. But with head coach Kyle Shanahan looking to make his offense capable of attacking all three levels, San Francisco turned back to bargain-basement deals in NFL free agency.

According to his representative agency, wide receiver Marcus Johnson will be joining the 49ers heading into the upcoming season after meeting with the team earlier this week:

Johnson, an undrafted free agent out of Texas who initially signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016, didn’t start seeing the field until the following year.

After moving over to the Indianapolis Colts in 2018, Johnson started making a modest impact and put forth a career-best 277-yard, two-touchdown campaign in 2019 when he averaged 16.3 yards per reception.

Marcus Johnson Receiving Table
3 yr3 yrIND249693763417.1328551.526.453.6%9.2
1 yr1 yrPHI10085459.003160.54.562.5%5.6
1 yr1 yrTEN7319916017.807501.322.947.4%8.4

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com
Generated 4/7/2022.

Turning 28 years old this offseason, the 6-foot-1 and 207-pound Johnson will look to fill that void for a deep threat Shanahan and the Niners have been seeking.

49ers banking on Marcus Johnson being a speedy deep threat

Sure, he might have lost a bit of a step and dealt with injuries in 2021, which likely prompted the Tennessee Titans to let him walk in NFL free agency.

But it’s important to note Johnson’s 4.39 40-yard time he ran during his pro day. That’s certainly impressive enough in the speed department, and it’s unquestionably an element Shanahan has been drawn to over the years.

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This, explained by what San Francisco originally had with former wide receiver Marquise Goodwin in 2017 and 2018 and what it wanted to get out of fellow veteran wideout Travis Benjamin last year.

Johnson will likely occupy a similar role, a gadget-type receiver who’ll take the field in certain situations and with the hope quarterback Trey Lance’s strong arm can take advantage of deep-threat opportunities.

The 49ers’ presumed No. 3 wide receiver on the depth chart, Jauan Jennings, boasts likable size but not speed. He’s more of a possession-type receiver, a big-bodied target who uses physicality to catch contested passes. Not necessarily separation skills.

Johnson, on the other hand, can still get past defensive backs with speed.

While fans shouldn’t expect lofty production out of Johnson whatsoever, his presence at least helps cross off one of the needs Shanahan wanted to address heading into 2022.

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