Stevie Johnson is coming home.
And suddenly, what was thought to be a top-heavy group of receivers for the 49ers has legitimate depth. Johnson will likely be the third wideout among starters Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree, while competing with Quinton Patton, Brandon Lloyd and a potential draft pick in training camp. The deal was first reported by ESPN.
Johnson registered three-straight 1,000-yard seasons in Buffalo from 2010 to 2012 after getting drafted in the seventh round in 2008 out of Kentucky. He is coming off a down season, however, playing in 12 games making 52 catches for 597 yards.
In exchange, the 49ers sent the Bills a conditional fourth-round draft pick in 2015 that could turn into a third rounder depending on Johnson's production.
The Bills traded up five spots in the first round of the draft Thursday to take Watkins, giving Cleveland its first and fourth-round picks in 2015. Trade rumors had been swirling around Johnson, who became expendable given the five-year, $36.25 million contract he signed in 2012. Buffalo also traded for former Tampa Bay wideout Mike Williams this spring.
Johnson will count for approximately $3.925, $6.025 and $6.125 million against the salary cap for San Francisco over the remaining three years of his contract, according to overthecap.com.
According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson ran 71.3 percent of his routes from the slot last season while San Francisco used three-wide receivers sets just 22 percent of the time. Jim Harbaugh intimated that the team could use more of those this season, and adding Johnson reaffirms that idea.
Coming into the draft many believed the 49ers needed to add another receiver. With the addition of Johnson, they may no longer need to address the position with an early pick, although the long-term outlook remains murky at the position.
Boldin will turn 34 this season and Michael Crabtree is entering the final year of his rookie contract. The 49ers re-signed Boldin prior to the start of free agency to a two-year, $12 million deal. General manager Trent Baalke has said the team is working with Crabtree's representatives towards a new extension, but the sides are not yet close to an agreement.
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