The Seahawks have signed former Niner and Eagle receiver Ronald Johnson, replacing Anthony McCoy, who again heads to the injured reserve with a torn achilles tendon.
Johnson was a sixth round pick by the Niners back in 2011 after a fairly illustrious career at USC -- it was perceived at the time that this was a pretty great value for the guy that had been projected to go quite a bit earlier in the draft -- but he ultimately did not make San Francisco's final roster at the time. He ended up in Philly on their practice squad, and he eventually was activated to their active roster late in the year, but dislocated his ankle during the next training camp in 2012. He went to the IR and then was eventually waived in August of 2013.
The Seahawks brought him in for a workout last September but did not end up signing him. Johnson has the advantage of being a former Pete Carroll player, so at least he knows the program and more or less what Carroll expects from his players/receivers. Prior to his injury, at the 2011 Combine, he ran the 40 in 4.46 seconds and measured in at 5'11, 199, which is right there in the same sort of category in height/weight as Doug Baldwin, Percy Harvin, and Kevin Smith.
Niners' GM Trent Baalke had this to say about Johnson when they selected him back in 2011:
He's a guy that's made a lot of big plays. We didn't think that he would last as long as he did; we feel that we got good value. We feel we got real good value for where we ended up drafting him. A guy that we feel can play in the slot, play the Z position, more so than the X, he's more of a slot and a Z, with also return value. He's been a punt returner, he can return kicks. he's going to do everything he can on cover teams, and [he's] another guy that we like [because of his] wiring. He's very passionate. Everybody you talk to at USC about this guy talked about his passion for the game. Lives in the weight room, lives in the building, has always wanted to be a pro.
He's a guy that we'll throw into the mix, let him compete with the group that we have now; is this a guy that can step in and take one of those positions? Time will tell, but we certainly like the value.
As we know, Johnson didn't break onto the Niners' roster, which isn't unusual for sixth round picks around the league, and has bounced around since. The gruesome ankle injury obviously did not help matters, but as Baalke said, his passion and work ethic is strong. This will fit in to what the Seahawks want on their roster so it should be interesting to see how things go.
I think there's obviously talent there, and he could contribute in the punt return game, which increases his chances. He's an athletic dude as well -- he ran 4.46 in the 40, with a 37.5" vert, a 10'04" broad jump, a 4.28 short shuttle, and a very nice 6.64 3-cone.
He's 26 next week.