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Dontae Johnson, Rookies Work Alongside Veterans

Posted May 13, 2014

Although the former North Carolina State cornerback played on the East Coast, he still has a solid understanding of the franchise that selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.



Dontae Johnson feels like he’s joined a championship-caliber program with the San Francisco 49ers.

Although the former North Carolina State cornerback played on the East Coast, he still has a solid understanding of the franchise that selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

“It’s definitely a huge honor,” Johnson told 49ers.com after being the first of three cornerbacks drafted by San Francisco in 2014. “You watch football, you follow football, and San Francisco, you know they compete every year for a conference title or a chance to win a championship.”

He certainly has familiarity with the 49ers head coach.

Johnson could have been “teammates” with Jim Harbaugh during his time at Stanford, but the young defensive back turned down Harbaugh’s college recruitment. Even so, now he has a chance to play for the respected football coach. Johnson made the most of time in college, seeing the field in all four of his years at NC State and graduating last December with a double major in sports management and business administration.

The cerebral defensive back joins Eric Reid as recent 49ers draft picks to turn down Stanford scholarships and end up being drated by Harbaugh's NFL team.

Like Reid, Johnson comes to the 49ers being praised for his mental and physical ability.

“Runs 4.44, verified,” general manger Trent Baalke said when asked to describe what he liked most about the draft’s 129th overall selection. “(Johnson) has played safety, has played corner. Versatility. Intelligence. Very smart football player and an A-plus-plus character guy.”

Johnson’s displayed his charisma after his first day of practice with the 49ers. Following the workout, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound cornerback discussed the experience of joining the team’s offseason program.

“I’m glad to get here and be around my teammates and get acclimated to the system,” Johnson said. “I’m just ready to work.”

Johnson and the rookies are taking part in the team’s “Football School” workouts for the next two weeks. The 49ers rookie minicamp will take place two weekends from now.

So far, Johnson has been encouraged by what he’s seen from the leaders on the roster.

“It’s an honor to get around those guys and see their work ethic and what they do,” said the cornerback, who recorded 82 tackles, three interceptions and one forced fumble last season for NC State. “You see the Patrick Willis, Colin Kaepernick, Michael Crabtree, all those guys, you get to see them compete and see what they do.

“I couldn’t have asked for better teammates.”

Johnson has the body type to play safety in the NFL, but Baalke said he'll spend the offseason learning cornerback in San Francisco's system. For the next few months, Johnson and the franchise's 18 other rookies, will soak up knowledge and try to make an impact on the field.

“Everybody is here with a purpose and that’s to get better and try to win a championship,” the rookie cornerback said.