49ers send LB Cam Johnson to Colts in trade
Matt Maiocco – who had the first report on the trade – indicted that this was likely a corresponding move to the 49ers’ addition of wide receiver Chris Harper. The 49ers needed a roster spot to complete the Harper signing.
Until recently, the 49erws kept Johnson on their 53-man roster as one of the five outside linebackers under contract alongside Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Corey Lemonier and Dan Skuta. In total, the 49ers kept 10 linebackers by the final cuts deadline this weekend. It is believed that the versatile veteran Skuta will take over any duties left behind by Johnson.
Meanwhile, Smith and Brooks are expected to play most of the time. Lemonier also emerged as another potential strong pass rushing threat, who is likely to be the primary man off the bench behind Smith and Brooks on the depth chart. Taking all that into account, Johnson would have been buried on the depth chart behind a deep 49ers’ linebackers group.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Johnson would not have been a contributor for the 49ers’ defense this season. After all, Johnson had a solid preseason, recording two sacks and several QB hurries to go along with one punt blocked. But the 49ers’ have only so much room on their roster to reserve for outside linebackers. While Johnson had a huge punt block, he does not come off as a special teamer.
If the 49ers can secure a draft pick for the former seventh round pick, who spent most of last year on the practice squad, then it’s a good trade in terms of place value after all. The 49ers also previously shipped off sixth-year linebacker Parys Haralson in a trade with the New Orleans Saints.
As for Johnson’s situation with the Colts, he shouldn’t have much trouble fitting the roster. Johnson will likely fill in as another pass rusher for the Colts behind Robert Mathis, Erik Walden and rookie Bjoern Werner. However, Johnson might eclipse Werner on the depth chart.