Here’s the transcript of Josh Johnson’s first conference call as a 49er. Enjoy.
Q: What was told to you about what you will be allowed to compete for here at the 49ers?
JOHNSON: We didn’t actually get into the specifics. It wasn’t really that necessary. At quarterback, there’s only one guy out there at a time. It’s really just about getting reps. I was told that I would get reps and an opportunity to continue to develop. The competition is all about performance on the practice field and in the games. It wasn’t important to get into all of that now.
Q: Can you express your feeling about reuniting with Coach Harbaugh?
JOHNSON: I’m super excited just to be a part of this organization. Had a great year last year and I know the success will continue because I’ve played under this coaching staff already. I know what they expect out of the players, details that go into the preparation every week. I’m excited to be a part of that again.
Q: When you heard that Harbaugh became the coach of the Niners last year, did you think that this was going to happen, that you would be reunited with him in San Francisco?
JOHNSON: I knew it was a possibility, but you never know in the NFL so I kind of wanted to play it even keeled – didn’t want to get too high or too low on it, just kind of wanted to play it out and see how it happened. By God’s blessing he brought me back here. It all ended up working out for the better.
Q: After free agency began last Tuesday, how long was it before you heard from Harbaugh?
JOHNSON: They had reached out to my agent to let him know of their interest. There were a lot of other things going on with the whole Manning Situation, so I was just kind of waiting and seeing. My opportunity came in to take a visit. They brought me in yesterday. We finalized the deal last night.
Q: When you look at the offense now for the 49ers, how similar is it to the one you ran at the University of San Diego?
JOHNSON: It’s still a West Coast Offense. Some things have changed – terminology, formations. But I’ve also played in different forms of West Coasts Offenses since I’ve been in the NFL as well. Some things he’s changed since San Diego I’ve actually done in the NFL, so I feel like it’s just about changing over the language in my mind, putting it all back into this offense which I ran in college. Just changing the language over. The concepts are pretty similar to what we did.
Q: Did you throw passes with Harbaugh yesterday?
JOHNSON: No (laughs). No I didn’t.
Q: What did you do?
JOHNSON: I got to see the facilities, meet everyone in the building, talk football with a couple coaches, hang out with the quarterbacks and play a little racquet ball.
Q: Who won the racquet ball game?
JOHNSON: We were all learning how to play. It was my first time.
Q: Is that going to be something you guys do going forward?
JOHNSON: I’m not sure. If that’s what our guys want to do, I’d be down for it. It was a pretty fun experience.
ME: What do you think Harbaugh was trying to accomplish with that?
JOHNSON: Guys just getting to know each other and becoming teammates. The team aspect is more important than anything. We all have to be comfortable with each other. We have to be able to trust one another so we can help one another for this team to be successful.
Q: There were reports that you were meeting with the Redskins this week. What was it that the Niners were bringing to the table that Washington wasn’t?
JOHNSON: I knew what I was getting myself into here, and that was the biggest thing I was looking for out of this free agency. Just wanted to know that when I walked into a situation, when I was told I would be given the opportunity to develop and compete, I knew that would happen. I know Coach has never shot me wrong before. I know it’s all about hard work with him and getting it done on the field. I know that’s what it’s all about here and that’s the kind of guy I am. I just like to prove it on the field, and that’s what he allows you to do.
Q: You mentioned reps in your first answer. There are going to be four quarterbacks in training camp this year. Is there any concern that there are enough reps to go around?
JOHNSON: I’ve been in worse situations. I’ve been in camps where there have been five guys and it ended up working out. It’s just about taking advantage of the opportunities that you get.
Q: Which of your teammates did you meet yesterday? Had you met Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick before?
JOHNSON: No, I just met them yesterday. I met a couple other guys – Ted Ginn. I met Ted Ginn last year actually at a celebrity basketball event in Oakland. Met Anthony Dixon yesterday and Kendall Hunter as well. A lot of new faces, I’m still trying to put names with faces.
Q: Where did you guys play racquet ball?
JOHNSON: I have no clue.
Q: Did Harbaugh play with you guys too?
JOHNSON: Yeah, everyone was playing. He’s pretty good.
ME: Why will you do better here than you did in Tampa Bay?
JOHNSON: Why will I?
ME: Yes, why will you?
JOHNSON: I’m not a future teller, but when I predict things, (when I try to determine) what will give me the best situation to be successful, my college career told me: “Look at what I did playing for these coaches, playing in this offense. I had tremendous success. We won so many games and we accomplished so much as a team. He changed so much in San Diego, and I remember the maturity that I gained from being down there under this coaching staff and how I grew up as an individual and how I grew up as a football player. Why not do that in the pros? Grow up with the same coaching staff I grew up with in college.”
Q: As a player, what was the biggest difference that Harbaugh made in you?
JOHNSON: He showed me how to trust in all my abilities. Coming out of high school my body was still developing so I would kind of doubt myself at times. He showed me how to play the quarterback position with confidence and how to be precise about everything how you can really really play it above the neck – control the game, and then when you use your athletic abilities it’s a plus. There’s a time (and place) to use it. He really showed me a lot about playing the quarterback position.
Q: How did you end up at the University of San Diego?
JOHNSON: I wasn’t recruited largely out of high school. I was a pretty small kid. I was still developing. I was 5-11, 145 lbs. in high school (laughs). Coach (Harbaugh) got the job, and one of the local coaches, Alonzo Carter – they had actually had a conversation about me. (Harbaugh) came and visited me at my high school, Oakland Tech, and we kind of hit it off from there.
Q: Did you know who he was when he visited you?
JOHNSON: Yeah, most definitely. I’ve always been a football junkie – I knew exactly who he was (laughs).
Q: Why do you think you guys hit off that day at Oakland Tech?
JOHNSON: Just our love for the game. It was a mutual thing that brought two different people from two different places together. From the moment I met him I could tell his love of football. He always wanted to talk football and that’s the kind of guy I was.
Q: So you were a walk-on?
JOHNSON: Everyone was a walk-on at our school – we didn’t give scholarships (laughs).