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Cam Johnson Puts on Show

Posted Aug 29, 2013

The 49ers outside linebacker recorded two sacks, blocked a punt and scored a touchdown.

SAN DIEGO – Parys Harlason’s departure seems less stressful after Thursday night’s preseason finale.

That’s because second-year outside linebacker Cam Johnson stole the show.

The former seventh-round draft pick made the most of his playing time now that Haralson, an eight-year veteran, was traded earlier in the week to the New Orleans Saints.

Johnson recorded two sacks and recovered his own blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown.


The young linebacker’s solid performance stole the show in San Francisco’s lopsided 41-6 win over the San Diego Chargers.

It could very well have landed Johnson a spot on the 49ers final roster.

Johnson’s consistent effort started in the first half where he recorded two sacks in the second quarter.

Johnson wasn’t alone in causing havoc in San Diego’s backfield.

First, veteran Dan Skuta hit and forced a fumble on backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.

Soon after, rookie third-round draft pick Corey Lemonier bull-rushed right tackle Mike Harris to the ground and then proceeded to register his own sack of Whitehurst.

It wasn’t too long until Johnson found his way to the quarterback. Johnson recorded the third sack of the night, beating veteran left tackle Max Starks to drop Whitehurst. 

Later in the second quarter, pressure on Whitehurst led to an errant throw over the middle, one that was picked off by 49ers linebacker Michael Wilhoite. The turnover led to a 5-yard Anthony Dixon touchdown catch from No. 2 quarterback, Colt McCoy.

On San Diego’s next offensive series, Johnson beat Starks once more to sack Whitehurst again in the second quarter. This time it was for a seven-yard-loss and it helped the 49ers defense force the Chargers to another field goal.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh discussed the first-half sack effort in his halftime interview.

He even went out of his way to praise Johnson’s performance.

“I love the guys that are playing, competing their hearts out,” the 49ers coach said. “Cam Johnson has made a couple of incredible plays.”

In the first drive of the second half, Johnson appeared to injure his arm while reaching out to grab Whitehurst on a third-down pass rush. 

Johnson, however, returned to the game and was on the field when San Francisco recorded a second takeaway.

Third-string Chargers quarterback Brad Sorensen threw a pass over the middle into a crowd of 49ers defenders. Inside linebacker Nate Stupar tipped the ball and it was intercepted Craig Dahl, who returned the ball to San Diego’s 24-yard line.

"It's a conscious effort to get turnoverss," Stupar said postgame. "Our team has done a great job focusing on that."

Added Dahl: "It was an easy pick when the ball falls in your lap... It was a great heads-up play by (Stupar)."

After another Phil Dawson field goal, the 49ers defense held the Chargers to a three-and-out.

After the stop, Johnson put his mark on the game with a blocked punt that he recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.

It gave the 49ers a 27-6 lead at the end of the third quarter.

San Francisco’s defense continued to be disruptive and recorded its third interception of the game shortly after the special teams score.

Tramaine Brock stepped in front of a Sorensen pass to give San Francisco the ball in San Diego territory.

The red-clad fans behind the 49ers bench at Qualcomm Stadium immediately began a “Let’s go Niners!” chant.

With a pseudo home field advantage, it was hard for the defense to let up. Johnson was in on a fourth-down incompletion in the fourth quarter. It would have been his third sack of the game.

Instead, he settled for two sacks and a memorable special teams touchdown.

"He played lights-out," Colin Kaepernick said of Johnson. "You can't ask for anything more out of a defensive player."

Now, he’ll have to wait to find out if he’s assured a spot on the competitive 53-man roster.


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