The San Francisco 49ers signed Kerryon Johnson to their practice squad on Wednesday. The move seemed innocent on the surface, but scratch a little further. There was a sneaking suspicion that the NFC West team was trying to gather intelligence ahead of their Week 2 matchup.
The 49ers will visit the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Johnson spent his summer at Eagles’ training camp where he was trying to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. He was released on Aug. 17 with an injury settlement. Now the 24-year-old is trying to latch on in San Francisco, a team in desperate need of a veteran running back after losing starter Raheem Mostert for the year.
It stands to reason that Johnson has a good grasp of the Eagles’ offense considering he was in Philly for more than three months. The former second-round pick of the Detroit Lions surely retained some knowledge of the playbook during that time.
Did 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan merely pick Johnson up to pick his brain? It’s possible. Even so, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni doesn’t see an issue there. Johnson wouldn’t be able to divulge enough secrets to make a difference this week.
“My experience with that is he doesn’t know what the game plan is this week, right. He can go in there with a lot of different information but that’s a lot of information to dissect,” Sirianni told reporters on Wednesday. “I know any time we’ve been in that scenario, and you start to talk to the guy about, ‘What do you do here, what do you do here,’ it becomes too much. It can become too much information. So we’ll have a couple things that we need to do most definitely, but we can’t overreact to that either.”
The latest Eagles news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Eagles newsletter here!
Welcome Back to Philly, DeMeco Ryans
It could be argued that DeMeco Ryans was the last really talented linebacker to suit up for the Philadelphia Eagles. He manned the middle from 2012 through 2015, wearing the headset and calling out the plays while making 334 total tackles (78 for loss). Ryans was also a calming voice and veteran leader in the locker room.
Now the 37-year-old is in his first year as defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. He took over for Robert Saleh who left the Bay Area for the head-coaching spot with the New York Jets. Ryans may be six years removed from the City of Brotherly of Love but his presence can still be felt.
“Everybody in this building talks super highly of him and how good of a person he was and how smart he was and how hard of a worker he was,” Sirianni said of Ryans. “So, no surprise to me that he’s a good coach as well. I have a lot of respect for him. I got a lot of respect for that defense they have over there in San Francisco.”
Cue up Rocky Balboa and Adrian in Week 2
Sunday will mark Sirianni’s first home game as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. While the 40-year-old won’t admit to having any jitters, he did mention being excited about seeing one long-standing Philly tradition on the Jumbotron. He can’t wait to see Rocky Balboa.
“I’m going to be looking at that screen when Rocky comes on,” Sirianni told reporters. “I’ve talked about Rocky before. But I’m going to be looking at that screen when Rocky comes on, and Adrian says, ‘Win,’ and everybody gets juiced up. I’m going to have some energy when I see that.”