Jared Wickerham / Getty Images North America
“When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree that’s the result you’re going to get” – we all remember Richard Sherman’s rant after the NFC Championship Game in January. It seems like San Francisco 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke was not only listening to Sherman, but acted upon his comments in the offseason. The acquisition of Stevie Johnson from the Buffalo Bills can be just the right move to help the 49ers over the hump.
The addition of Johnson is one of the most overlooked transactions of the offseason. Even when discussing the 49ers’ summer activity, people would rather point to Colin Kaepernick’s contract extension when selecting the most notable move of the franchise. Although, the quarterback’s extension is significant; it keeps the status quo, while bringing over Johnson to the West Coast can represent an upgrade to an offense that already has great potential.
After selecting Sammy Watkins in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Bills were ready to dispose Johnson. Baalke jumped at the chance and traded a conditional 2015 fourth-round pick, which could become a third, to bring the San Francisco native Johnson home.
Johnson showed his potential in Buffalo (Photo: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Johnson will join an already above average group of pass catchers that included Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Together, the four players have 20 seasons of at least 700 receiving yards, including nine 1,000-yard seasons.
Johnson had a tough year with the Bills in 2013, as he had just 52 catches for 597 yards and scored only three touchdowns. He also missed four games – two due to injuries and two due to the passing of his late mother.
However, between 2010 and 2012 Johnson reached the 1,000-yard mark in all three seasons, while averaging 79 receptions and nearly eight touchdowns per season.
One of Johnson’s best games came against the 49ers’ divisional foes, the Seattle Seahawks, in Week 15 of the 2012 season. He caught eight passes for 115 yards – both were season-highs – while also scoring one touchdown. According to Pro Football Focus, with that game the Kentucky alum became one of only four players in the last two seasons who caught at least three passes, while being covered by Richard Sherman – the others being Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Titus Young.
Let’s have a look at Johnson’s receptions from that game in Toronto. I apologize for the quality of the footage, seems like Toronto didn’t receive the memo on the quality requirements of the All-22 tape.