SANTA CLARA – Second-year cornerback Dontae Johnson spoke in the 49ers’ auditorium Tuesday morning. Here are selected quotes.
Q: With the new defensive scheme, how much more aggressive are you guys supposed to play as cornerbacks?
JOHNSON: I guess you could say we’re playing more aggressive, but it’s putting us in better positions. Honestly giving the whole defense a better chance to make plays, make more plays, play at a high level and allow each player’s strengths to surface.
Q: It seems like you’re playing outside in the Nickel packages and Tramaine Brock goes inside. Is that usually how it goes?
JOHNSON: Yeah, for right now I’m strictly on the outside. If need be, I know Nickel.
Q: What do you see from NaVorro Bowman? Is he the guy in the middle of the huddle?
JOHNSON: Yeah, absolutely. Last year, whoever was calling out plays commanded the huddle, whether it was Pat (Willis) to Michael Wilhoite to NaVorro Bowman this year. We always look at that person to take charge and take command of the huddle because they’re calling the plays.
ME: In what ways is this year’s defense different than last year’s defense schematically?
JOHNSON: It’s different. Two different guys. Two different schemes. Last year’s scheme was more so just playing. This year, it’s a little more thinking. I feel like the guys have really worked hard this offseason to understand the thinking, to understand the process of what Eric Mangini is trying to teach us. Honestly, we’re just continuing to grow each and every day with meetings and then practice. It’s coming along.
Q: How does the new defense allow you to be more aggressive?
JOHNSON: You can expect more things, whether it be more blitzes—you know the ball has got to come out quick. The quarterback can’t hold the ball as long as he wants to. He’s got to diagnose different things, read coverages a lot faster. So this allows us to play more aggressive. It allows everybody on the field to play to their strengths and be able to make plays when presented to them.