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Josh Johnson Has Unique Perspective on 49ers-Raiders Rivalry

Posted Dec 3, 2014

Johnson, 28, was born in Oakland. But unlike his family members, he grew up as a major supporter of the San Francisco 49ers.

The first time Josh Johnson walked into the Oakland Coliseum, he was there as a high school senior to play for the Oakland Athletic League Championship in 2003.

The next time the San Francisco 49ers quarterback enters the building this Sunday, it will be as an opponent of his family’s favorite team, the Oakland Raiders.

Johnson, 28, was born in Oakland. But unlike his family members, he grew up as a supporter of the 49ers.

So it should come as no surprise that the third-string quarterback knows all about the significance of the upcoming 49ers-Raiders rivalry game that is set to take place in the East Bay.

“It’s going to be a great atmosphere, especially since both teams haven’t seen each other in the regular season in four years,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “It should be pretty interesting.”

Johnson said his loyalty to the 49ers has been consistent since the 1990s. Even when Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice switched sides from the 49ers to Raiders in 2001, Johnson maintained his allegiance.

“At first, I was kind of upset, but I understood why he left,” Johnson said of the most famous player to don both Bay Area uniforms. “He wanted to keep playing, and they had moved on here. It was too bad (the Raiders) had all that success with him.”

Johnson constantly defended the 49ers during his childhood and teenage years. By the time he led Oakland Technical High School to an OAL championship as a senior, Johnson was named First-Team All-City. He was later recruited by Jim Harbaugh to play quarterback at the University of San Diego, where he became the NCAA FCS record holder for passing efficiency and school record holder in touchdown passes (113), completions (724) and passing yards (9,699).

Johnson was a fifth-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008 and later reunited with Harbaugh as a member of the 49ers in 2012. The athletic quarterback was ultimately cut from the roster that season, but when he was brought back in 2014, Johnson’s ties to San Francisco’s football team strengthened.

His East Bay relatives, however, didn’t instantly become fans of the red and gold.

“I can’t even really think of a true Niner fan in my family,” Johnson said with a grin. “I know all my family members have been talking about this game since last year.”

Johnson is likely going to be inactive for this game. He’s typically not a member of San Francisco’s 46 dressed players for gameday. If Johnson is wearing his shoulder pads come kickoff, that would be the only way that his family would become San Francisco supporters.

But no matter who the Johnsons support on Sunday, the veteran quarterback knows what this Week 14 matchup is all about.

Bragging rights.

“It’s huge for the Bay Area,” Johnson said. “Everything is on the line from a fan’s perspective.”

And from a player’s point of view, Johnson hasn’t had to share any more emphasis on the Bay Area rivalry to his teammates. With the 49ers at 7-5 and looking to keep their playoff hopes alive, Johnson said both teams have a lot to play for beyond pride.

“It’s their Super Bowl, but it’s ours, too, because it’s a must-win game on top of the 'Battle of the Bay,'” Johnson said. “It should be a really exciting game.”

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