After their first six draft picks, the 49ers have yet to select one of Jim Harbaugh’s former Stanford players.
But with their sixth-round pick today they did grab a player from Harbaugh’s old rival when they drafted USC wide receiver Ronald Johnson (highlights here), who had career-highs in catches (64), yards (692) and matched his career-best with eight touchdowns in 2010.
Harbaugh, of course, saw plenty of Johnson during his four seasons in Palo Alto. Johnson had 13 catches for 130 yards the past seasons against the Cardinal.
But no one is better acquainted with the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Johnson than first-year 49ers wide receivers coach John Morton, who was Johnson’s position coach for his four seasons at USC.
Johnson said he immediately thought of hooking up with his old coach when Morton was hired in San Francisco.
“I thought, hey he left USC and went to San Francisco,” Johnson said. “It’s my chance to be able to play with him again.”
I previously spoke with CBS Sports draft analyst Rob Rang about potential mid-round slot receivers in the draft and Rang had mentioned Johnson, who he termed an excellent route runner with good return skills.
Johnson, who played in the slot and outside in college, mentioned those qualities when asked about his best attributes. He averaged 24.1 yards on 56 kickoff returns at USC. He returned punts as a senior and averaged 14.2 yards on 22 returns.
Johnson said the Niners discussed him being a punt returner and a “stretch-the-field-type-of-guy.” Johnson ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.