49ers CB Dontae Johnson: 'I've been through it all ... no one is safe'


49ers CB Dontae Johnson: 'I've been through it all ... no one is safe'

SANTA CLARA – Cornerback Dontae Johnson entered this season with six career starts in three full NFL seasons.

Now, midway through his fourth year in the league, Johnson feels like a seasoned veteran and a sage to his younger teammates.

“I’ve learned a lot in four seasons,” said Johnson, 25. “I try to continue to pass it on to the young guys. You’re forced to grow up in this league. I’ve been through it all. I’ve been through different coaches, different schemes and turnover, as far as players.

“At the end of the day, the organization has a vision and they’re going to get the right guys in here for that vision.”

Johnson has started the first nine games of the season – his final year under contract to the 49ers. It remains to be seen whether Johnson fits into the organization's vision for the future. General manager John Lynch will almost certainly attempt to upgrade the talent and dept at the cornerback position.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh recently described Johnson as a steady, reliable player.

“He plays it smart, he does,” Saleh said. “He does play smart. My evaluation of him so far is he’s been very consistent.”

Johnson said he is trying to focus on his job and not think about anything beyond the upcoming opponent.

“We’ll sit down, my agent and I, and the team will sit down after the season,” Johnson said. “We’re not focused on that right now. That’s been my focus each and every week. It hasn’t been on getting a new contract. It’s been a week-to-week basis of me going out there and trying to put my best foot forward.”

Johnson said he was “shocked” a week ago when he learned cornerback Rashard Robinson was traded to the New York Jets for a fifth-round draft pick. Robinson started the first seven games before losing his starting job to rookie Ahkello Witherspoon.

“No one is safe, including myself,” Johnson said. “But at the end of the day, the organization and the team and staff here expect everybody to carry themselves a certain way. When it’s all said and done, I’m here to do a job and do it to the best of my abilities.”

Johnson has played for four head coaches and four defensive coordinators in his four seasons in the league. He would like some stability, for sure, but he has also gained experience in dog years since entering as a fourth-round draft pick in 2014.

“It’s starting to hit me that I have to be an older guy and help the young guys, bring them along. Just give them knowledge,” Johnson said. “This is a serious game. Everybody wants to win. The profession and the business we’re in, it’s all about winning. I’m just trying to pass that along to the younger guys.

“I feel like I can do things better. Do the little things necessary or make a big play to give our team a chance to win the game. What I’m doing isn’t enough. We need to do things better. I need to do things better. That’s that, because we aren’t winning.”

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'


Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

The 49ers’ coaching staff made its feelings known to center Daniel Kilgore throughout the season.

But, in the past, that would not have necessarily meant everyone in the organization had the same thoughts about Kilgore, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

“The whole season, coaches and I had a good relationship,” Kilgore said Wednesday on conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just talking and having one-on-ones with various coaches, I had a positive outlook for the future.

“But that’s just one thing. The coaches have an opinion of you, but then there’s also the front office. That’s two totally different things. And I think for the first time in a long time, our coaches and the front office are on the same page.”

Kilgore was working out back home in Tennessee on Wednesday when he signed a three-year contract to avoid hitting the free-agent market. Kilgore, 30, a seven-year NFL veteran, described the contract as a team-friendly deal.

The 49ers presented Kilgore with a contract offer during the season but negotiations did not get serious until just recently. While the 49ers expressed interest in retaining Kilgore, he said he did not know what the future held for him when he packed his belongings from the locker room on the day after the season ended.

“It kind of makes you nervous because in this profession, people like the younger guys,” Kilgore said. “You just never know what will happen at any time, any given day, in the NFL. So toward the end, that last day of clearing out the locker, I didn’t know if I’d be back. I didn’t know if the Niners would want me back.”

Kilgore was named the winner of the organization’s top honor for an offensive lineman. Kilgore won the Bobb McKittrick Award for best exemplifying the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time 49ers offensive line coach. Kilgore started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons, including a career-high 16 games last season.

"I've been here seven years and I consider the Bay Area my second home,” Kilgore said. “To be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team is heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it."

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

Matt Maiocco

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

When Jimmy Garoppolo signed a contract that could pay him up to $137.5 million over the next five years, he was asked what convinced him during his nine weeks with the organization that he wanted to be with the 49ers for the long term.

“I think it was a number of things,” Garoppolo said last week. “The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here from the get-go, the coaching staff, Kyle and Rich. It was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that. We had some success down the stretch, and you could see that pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.”

Kyle, of course, is head coach Kyle Shanahan. Rich Scagarello is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, and the person from whom Garoppolo spent the most time after arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots.

Garoppolo earned $3.5 million in his first four NFL seasons. His new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, making an average of $27.5 million per season, with $48.7 million fully guaranteed.

Scangarello, appearing this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast, talked about what he learned about Garoppolo from working so closely with him to teach him Shanahan's offense. Scangarello said there is no question in his mind the money will not change Garoppolo’s approach to his work.

“That’s why it was easy for the organization and everyone to invest in somebody like Jimmy Garoppolo,” Scangarello said. “I just think that’s not the kind of person he is. If you met his family, you know where he comes from, what he’s about. His brothers, his parents, are just good, solid people people. He’s made of the right stuff and I just don’t see that affecting him in that way.

“It’s just not who he is. That’s the fun part of working with somebody like that every day. When they’re really talented and they appreciate everything and they work at it, you have a chance to be a successful organization and they can be a great player. And I don’t think those things will ever affect him.”