One of the many standouts from the San Francisco 49ers 2014 draft class, Dontae Johnson is back for his sophomore season hungry to make an even bigger impact in the team's secondary.
With Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox leaving via free agency, Johnson has an opportunity to compete for a significant role in 2015. That possibility has the second-year cornerback focused this offseason.
"I've been working in the weight room just getting strong, faster and more explosive," Johnson said. "I want to continue to get better."
As rookie last year, Johnson played in all 16 games, recording 34 tackles, six pass breakups and one interception. He returned that pick for a touchdown to clinch a 49ers victory over the St. Louis Rams on "Monday Night Football."
"You take it and learn from it," Johnson said of his rookie campaign. "I'm just going to take that information and progress this year."
Johnson is in the mix with a talented and mostly young group of cornerbacks. The veterans include Tramaine Brock, Chris Cook and Shareece Wright while the up-and-comers consist of Keith Reaser, Leon McFadden, Mylan Hicks, Marcus Cromartie and Kenneth Acker.
"Honestly, we're just trying to compete and push each other," Johnson said. "We're as strong as our weakest man, so we're trying to make everybody strong. Whoever does rise to the top, we're still all going to be ready in case one man goes down. It's next man up."
As for how Johnson is meshing with the 49ers new coaching staff, he said he has already soaked up knowledge from both his position coach, Tim Lewis, and defensive coordinator, Eric Mangini.
"It's been great. With Coach Lewis, I had an opportunity to work with him at the Senior Bowl. So reuniting with him is good," Johnson said. "And Mangini is just one of those gurus who knows a lot of things and understands football in and out. You get little tidbits from both of those guys, and you just have to bank it and run with it."