HOUSTON – The locker room was upbeat after a 40-13 victory over the Houston Texans in Thursday night's preseason finale.
It was a joyous scene, even with challenging decisions to be made on the final 53-man roster.
Dontae Johnson, the fourth-round draft pick, was one of the players who couldn't help but leave the locker room with his chin up.
Johnson recorded five tackles and a pass breakup against the Texans. The rookie cornerback was part of a consistent rotation throughout the night. At times, Johnson lined up with fellow rookie Kenneth Acker. Johnson also saw time on the field with second-year cornerback Darryl Morris.
Johnson said the rotation helped the three cornerbacks, along with veteran Chris Cook, stay fresh throughout the game, mentally and physically.
"When the other two corners were out on the field and the other two were waiting," Johnson began, "we were talking about what they saw and they were telling us what they were seeing. It was constant communication and it helped the rotation make sure everybody got proper information to perform on the field at the highest level."
From cornerback Jimmie Ward (30th overall) to offensive guard Brandon Thomas (100th) and beyond, here are San Francisco's 12 selections.
Johnson performed well against the Texans. He finished his first preseason with 15 tackles.
"It was a great experience," Johnson said, "definitely something I'm going to cherish for the rest of my life. I'm pretty sure the guys are going to cherish it as well."
Johnson's roster spot is not secured heading into Saturday's final cuts. He does, however, hope that he's made a solid impression on San Francisco's personnel department.
Johnson made plays throughout his first training camp and preseason. He recorded a pick-six on quarterback Joe Flacco in San Francisco's joint-practices with the Baltimore Ravens. Johnson continued to be a sponge around his veteran teammates and never acted brashly while he broke up passes or recorded tackles.
"Hopefully I've proved enough to stay here," the 6-foot-2, 200-pound cornerback said. "I'm just going to keep working to help this organization win more football games."
San Francisco had seventh-round draft pick Marcus Cooper claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs following the final round of roster cuts a season ago. Johnson and Acker could be attractive to 31 other teams should they not make the 49ers final roster.
"Coming into an organization that has been great to me, great coaches, great teammates – it just inspires you to keep working whether it's here or somewhere else," Johnson said. "I thank this organization for giving me the opportunity."
The North Carolina State product, who was originally recruited by Jim Harbaugh to Stanford University coming out of high school, is optimistic about his chances of sticking with the 49ers. Johnson is also aware of the business side of football and the numbers game is always tricky when determining who stays and who goes before Week 1.
"It's going to be a little nerve-racking the next two days," said Johnson, who plans on hanging with teammates before the final cuts are made. "I'll just go from there."
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