49ers promote LB Cam Johnson, fill roster vacancy


49ers promote LB Cam Johnson, fill roster vacancy

UPDATE (Dec. 22, 1:30 p.m.) -- The 49ers made it official Saturday, signing linebacker Cam Johnson to a two-year contract and promoting him from the practice squad to the active roster to fill the team's roster vacancy.


SANTA CLARA -- Rookie Cam Johnson, a seventh-round draft pick who missed most of the 49ers' offseason program after undergoing knee surgery, will be promoted to the 49ers' 53-man roster, coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday afternoon.

Johnson could be active for the 49ers' game Sunday night against the Seattle Seahawks as veteran backup Clark Haggans is not expected to play due to a shoulder injury. Journeyman Eric Bakhtiari will be the 49ers' top backup at outside linebacker behind starters Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks.

Johnson (6-foot-3, 258 pounds) was a seventh-round pick (No. 237 overall) out of Virginia. He was named third-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference after his senior season. He playd 42 games at Virginia with 34 starts. He recorded 12.5 career sacks.

Haggans and 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith (left elbow) are two players the 49ers originally listed as doubtful for Sunday's game. If Smith is unable to play, second-year nose tackle Ian Williams would be expected to get he call to suit up for the first time this season. Ricky Jean Francois would start, with Will Tukuafu and Williams available as backups.

Last week, the 49ers went more than a week with one vacancy on their 53-man roster after suspending running back Brandon Jacobs for the final three games of the regular season. The 49ers released practice-squad receiver Chad Hall because of an obscure NFL rule that states a team must fill promote a third-year practice squad player to the 53-man roster if they have a vacancy.

Last week, the 49ers released Hall before the weekend to get around that rule. They re-signed him on Monday. After all, there was no reason to activate a player from the practice squad to the 53-man roster if he is not going to suit up for the game. Such a move would cost the team an unnecessary $17,200 weekly in salary and cap space.

Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts


Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

The 49ers recently re-signed eight of the 10 players who finished the season on the team’s practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who was not among the first wave of 49ers signings to 2018 contracts, signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, ending his three-season association with the organization.

Smelter was one of general manager Trent Baalke’s redshirt draft picks. The team selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft despite a torn ACL that ended his final season at Georgia Tech.

Smelter spent his first season on an injured list. He was waived at the beginning of the past two seasons, finishing both years on the 49ers’ practice squad. Smelter appeared in two games in 2016 and caught one pass for 23 yards.

Last season, the 49ers signed wide receivers Louis Murphy and Max McCaffrey to spots on the 53-man roster instead of Smelter, who remained on the practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, who also spent the entire season on the practice squad, was signed recently to the team’s 90-man roster.

Others who finished the season on the 49ers practice squad to remain on the team’s offseason roster are: quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Cole Wick, offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Pace Murphy, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, and defensive backs Trovon Reed and Channing Stribling.

The 49ers also signed fullback Malcolm Johnson, who spent last season on injured reserve with the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson appeared in 19 games over the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was a sixth-round draft pick in ’15.

Offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, who finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad, remains unsigned. Guard JP Flynn is also unsigned. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in November and underwent surgery that was expected to keep him out up to nine months.

An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations


An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations

If the 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are unable to reach a multi-year contract extension by March 6, the 49ers have no other choice but to designate him as their franchise player.

The estimated one-year salary for the franchise tag would be $23.307 million, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry, whose work now appears at CBS Sports. (That is assuming a 2018 league-wide salary cap of $178.1 million per team.)

There is a lot to consider for both sides as they look to enter into a long-term contract. Corry said if a deal is struck, he would expect it to be in the neighborhood of Derek Carr’s five-year, $125 million deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason.

“And then there’s the other dynamic, which I would not undersell or I think may not be appreciated as much as it should be,” Corry said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “(Garoppolo’s agent) Don Yee has a reputation – no fault of his own – of doing team-friendly deals.”

Yee also represents New England quarterback Tom Brady, whose average of $20.5 million annual pay ranks 15th among NFL quarterbacks. Brady is underpaid by design, Corry said, because one of the great quarterbacks of all-time realizes it helps the Patriots to maintain a strong supporting cast.

“That’s because Tom Brady dictates, ‘I want to do something good for the team, take less money so we can improve the roster to win Super Bowls.’ That’s not Don Yee who wants to do that,” Corry said.

“The agent works for the player, so he’s executing Tom Brady’s wishes. But he gets that held against him in recruiting. So this is his opportunity to erase that perception if Garoppolo allows him to do his job and gives him latitude to strike the deal that he feels is appropriate.”

For more on the potential negotiating strategies of both sides, listen here to the 49ers Insider Podcast.