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Dontae Johnson Has Pick-six vs. Joe Flacco

Posted Aug 11, 2014

The San Francisco 49ers rookie cornerback turned in the defensive play of the day with a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown.

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Dontae Johnson credited his teammates and coaches for helping him return a Joe Flacco interception for a touchdown.

Johnson, the San Francisco 49ers rookie cornerback, forgot to credit himself. After all, he was the one who was in position to catch the short out pass from the Baltimore Ravens quarterback and run it back 40 yards untouched at Sunday's joint practice between the Super Bowl XLVII competitors.

"Honestly the call was a great call for the route combination that they had dialed up," San Francisco's fourth-round draft pick said. "I was playing my technique the way I was supposed to and I saw the opportunity to make a play and I just went and made it."

Flacco tried to complete a short pass to slot receiver Jacoby Jones. Instead, Johnson was right there to make the play. But of course, in Johnson's humble way, he deflected the attention from the top defensive highlight from the Harbaugh brother's joint practices.

"(It was) nothing too big,6-foot-2, 200-pound rookie said. "I was just playing assignment football. I was where I was supposed to be at the right time.

"I was fortunate enough to make a play, just trust my technique and end practice on a good note."

The North Carolina State product was also in the right place on Flacco's pass attempt prior to the interception. Johnson broke up a throw intended for Jones. Perhaps the best part of Johnson's back-to-back defensive highlights was the timing of when they happened. Both plays took place in a team period with every player from both teams watching.

"It just gives tremendous morale for the team and confidence for the team," Johnson said. "It’s a great feeling for the team because offense and defense was over there watching."

Again, Johnson stressed everyone else but himself.

In San Francisco's preseason opener against the Ravens, Johnson turned in four tackles and a pass breakup. He didn't face Flacco and Baltimore's first-team offense that night, but Johnson has had plenty of work against them in practice this week.

The experience bodes well for Johnson and his goal of making the 53-man roster.

"Great offense," Johnson said of the Ravens personnel. "Flacco and the receiving corps that they have, my hat goes off to those guys."

The rookie said it's been a good change of pace to compete against Flacco's deep balls to quick receivers.

"We’ve been going against Colin (Kaepernick) and Blaine (Gabbert) for training camp and going against our receivers, they’re great as well," Johnson began, "just to see something different to go against a different passing game, it gives you a chance to learn and adjust so you’ll be able to adjust in a game when you play against a shifty guy, or a strong-armed quarterback with quick receivers that love to run deep routes.

"The Ravens and Joe Flacco thrive off of big plays from my experience of watching them in the past."

Flacco and the Ravens connected on several deep balls on the first day of joint practice. One of Baltimore's biggest plays was a 50-yard bomb at Johnson's expense.

He didn't get down about the play. Neither did the 49ers defense.

"We did a lot better today," Johnson said. "We were out here getting our feet wet. I’m glad it was a practice. But again, it’s a credit to the whole defense, buckling down and getting ready to go."

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