‘Blue Collar’ Ex-4th Rounder Among 49ers Signings: Report

Buddy Johnson

Getty Buddy Johnson in a 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers preseason game.

It’s officially game week for the San Francisco 49ers, and they haven’t stopped adding to their roster with the Chicago Bears on the horizon.

Via the league’s transaction wire on the morning of Monday, September 5, the 49ers have signed two more players to their roster — helping add to their practice squad.

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Ex-4th Rounder is 1 Signing

Linebacker Buddy Johnson and offensive lineman Leroy Watson were announced as the new pieces being added in the Bay Area.

In the case of the former, he lands at his second NFL stop after being drafted in 2021.

The Pittsburgh Steelers took in the former Texas A&M Aggie Johnson in the fourth round, selecting him at No. 140 overall. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound inside linebacker was described as a leader by nfl.com draft expert Lance Zierlein.

“Blue-collar inside linebacker with good size and a forceful demeanor to stake his claim inside the box. Johnson developed into a highly respected team leader during his time with the Aggies,” Zierlein’s first sentence in his draft evaluation of Johnson read. He also added how Johnson “showed great improvement in pursuit leverage and recognition of blocking schemes” by his second season in College Station, Texas. However, he described him as a “liability” in the passing game.

Johnson was a Dick Butkus Award semifinalist for the Aggies — which honors the nation’s best college football linebacker. In his final season of 2020, Johnson delivered six games of posting double digit tackles, which included a streak of three straight games from October 10 to Halloween while facing Florida, Mississippi State and Arkansas in that order. He went on to produce 86 tackles and 8.5 for a loss. He also forced two fumbles in back-to-back games against the Gators and Bulldogs and intercepted a pass versus LSU.

The Steelers, however, decided to make Johnson one of their 24 roster cuts on August 30. Johnson only managed to play in two games his rookie season: Weeks 13 and 14 versus the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings. Johnson helped fill for Robert Spillane in both games per the Steelers team website.

The 23-year-old Johnson would go on and earn $1,159,344 in career earnings in the Steel City per Over the Cap.

Former CFB Teammate of 2 49ers Joining Roster

While Johnson adds an extra presence in the linebacker room, Watson heads over to the Bay Area already familiar with two members of the 49ers’ 2022 roster.

The former tight end Watson, who now has slid over to tackle, played with two 2022 49ers rookies: Jason Poe and Spencer Burford.

The center Poe, who was assigned to the practice squad after impressing during the preseason, was with Watson at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas during the 2017-18 season. Poe and Watson both played different positions at that time — fullback and tight end respectively.

Watson later went on to the University of Texas-San Antonio. And on that UTSA roster? The 49ers’ 2022 fourth rounder Spencer Burford. Watson was a tight end at the time Burford was with the Roadrunners and played in three college seasons together from 2019 and 2021. Both were on the UTSA team that went 12-2 overall and claimed the Conference USA title.

Watson’s dad was the one who revealed that his son was signing with the 49ers, but also shared how his son was nearly a New England Patriot:

The Athletic’s 49ers insider David Lombardi dove into “the fascinating case” of Watson on his You Tube channel.

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