49ers Add Ex-Cardinals Wide Receiver on Futures Deal: Report

KeeSean Johnson

Getty KeeSean Johnson #19 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a catch from Kyler Murray #1 during an 18-7 Los Angeles Rams win at SoFi Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California.

It may be NFC Championship week, but that isn’t stopping the San Francisco 49ers from making roster moves.

After all, the moment one season ends, another begins. But it is somewhat rare for teams to get future contracts done in moments like this, with just a few days before the 49ers take on the Los Angeles Rams for a trip to the Super Bowl.

Per NBC Sports Matt Maiocco, the 49ers are signing former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver KeeSean Johnson to a futures contract for the 2022 offseason. The team has made no official announcement.

“The 49ers signed WR KeeSean Johnson to a reserve/future contract for the 2022 offseason,” Maiocco tweeted on January 26. “He appeared in 18 games in 2019 and ’20 with the Cardinals, catching 36 passes for 360 yards and one TD.”

Those initial numbers don’t give the impression of a blockbuster signing, and Johnson isn’t one by any means. However, Johnson is young and has some encouraging characteristics to look into.

ALL the latest 49ers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on 49ers newsletter here!

Breaking Down Johnson

Coming out of Fresno State, Johnson was drafted by the Cardinals in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL draft. The 6-1 receiver put up a lot of volume in four years with the Bulldogs, bringing in 3,463 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns in his four-year career at Fresno State, per SR CFB.

Johnson actually has some starting experience, getting the nod five times in his two seasons with Arizona. However, he didn’t play in the regular season in 2021. After being cut by the Cardinals before the regular season, he was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles and remained on the practice squad all the way through the playoffs.

As Maiocco mentioned, the 25-year-old receiver brought down 360 yards on 36 catches in 18 appearances, but Pro Football Reference also shows that he has a 55.4% catch rate and had 4 drops in his 65 targets.

Johnson saw both short and long targets in Arizona, which brings up his quality route-running. When coming out of college, the Draft Network credited his routes as his greatest skill.

“Smooth and technically refined,” Draft Network wrote. “Fluid in and out of breaks and he is a terrific route salesman. The concern is can he separate at the next level given his lack of burst. Love his route pace, timing and how he attacks leverage to get open.”

He doesn’t have immense speed, but he’s got the technical ability required to play at the NFL level.

49ers Receiver Group in 2022

Why might the 49ers be signing names in the middle of conference championship week? Well, as Spotrac shows, the team currently has two receivers guaranteed to be on its roster for 2022: Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

Those are certainly the two guys of the current group you’d want the most, but the 49ers still need depth, and Johnson will bring that for a cheap futures contract. If he excels, the 49ers will have a great depth option, if he doesn’t, they didn’t bet much on him.

It’s worth noting that WR Jauan Jennings is set to be an exclusive rights free agent, which means the 49ers will have the right-away on his 2022 status. Still, it’s pretty clear that moves like Johnson’s makes sense until the 49ers make more notable moves in the draft or free agency.

Read More