The San Francisco 49ers are one quarterback lighter after making a significant roster move Tuesday.
The team announced on the first day of June that it would part with ways with signal caller Josh Johnson. The news was initially reported by Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network.
Johnson signed a futures contract with the team in January 2021 but fell to fifth on the Niners’ QB depth chart after management traded up in the draft to select Trey Lance third overall out of North Dakota State University. Johnson initially landed with San Francisco on November 11, 2020, signing with the team’s practice squad. He remained a part of the practice unit until he was relieved of his duties on June 1.
The 49ers’ decision to move away from Johnson was not as simple as discarding an unproven entity deep on the QB depth chart.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Johnson in the fifth round in 2008. Since then, the quarterback has had some connection to 10 other NFL teams including the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, New York Jets and the Washington Football Team.
Throughout his career, Johnson has seen action in 33 NFL games, starting eight of them. He most recently started under center for Washington in 2018. Johnson has thrown for a total of 1,632 yards and eight touchdowns during his time in the league, per Pro Football Reference.
Niners’ QB Depth Left Johnson Vulnerable
While San Francisco technically has only three QBs on its roster after dismissing Johnson, the position group has rarely been healthier.
The Niners can now confidently boast true depth at quarterback. The projected QB1 when the year begins is Jimmy Garoppolo, who has led the team to a win rate of over 73% in the 30 games he has started since arriving from the New England Patriots.
Lance, who has yet to sign his rookie contract and thus is not technically on the roster yet, has almost unlimited upside. San Francisco general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have extolled the varied virtues of the 21-year-old who runs with the ball perhaps even better than he passes it, which is saying a lot for a player who did not throw a single interception on his way to a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) title in 2019.
Behind Lance on the depth chart sit quarterbacks Nate Sudfeld, a former Philadelphia Eagle who signed with the 49ers in April, and Josh Rosen, already a journeyman at the position just three years into the league.
Rosen was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 and shipped to the Miami Dolphins the following year. He saw action in 20 games combined over those two seasons, starting in 16 of them. Rosen did not see the field for an NFL franchise in 2020.
San Francisco Also Trimmed Offensive Roster at TE Position
Also on Tuesday, the Niners parted ways with tight end Daniel Helm, who was given an injury waiver.
Helm appeared in five games for San Francisco last season. He was on the field for 28 offensive snaps and played 43 special teams downs for the 49ers.