Report: 49ers release Johnson

The 49ers are cutting ties with their third receiver, but could be open to bringing him back, according to multiple reports.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The 49ers gained a receiver in Torrey Smith in free agency, but appear to losing one in Stevie Johnson.

Johnson, 28, is set to be released by the team, as first reported by CSN Bay Area. But both Johnson's camp and the 49ers are open to Johnson returning at the right price, according to the Sacramento Bee.

In 13 games last season, Johnson had 35 catches for 435 yards and three touchdowns. He was San Francisco's most efficient receiver, catching 71.4 percent of his targets after joining the team via trade last spring for a fourth-round pick.

The expectations for the 49ers' passing game were high entering 2014 with the addition of Johnson, who appeared to be the team's most qualified third receiver in years. But the passing game never hit its stride, finishing 30th in the league in yardage.

"You had a bunch of guys in the same mold, guys that really were route runners underneath, got yards after the catch, those type guys," Anquan Boldin said Wednesday. "Myself, Crab (Michael Crabtree), Stevie, we’re all in that mold."

The addition of Smith gives the 49ers a chance to break that mold thanks to his big-play ability that will help open things up for Boldin and others. Boldin, Crabtree and Johnson combined for 12 touchdowns last season, while Smith scored 11 with the Ravens.

"I can turn a simple play to a huge gain," Smith said Wednesday. "I’m just trying to be an explosive play maker for the team. Help Kap, Q, whoever’s in there, be a spark."

In addition to Smith, the 49ers added another down field threat last week in Jerome Simpson, who will compete with Bruce Ellington and Quinton Patton for a role in the receiving corps this summer.

There's been little buzz about Crabtree during his two days as a free agent. The acquisition of Smith makes it likely he signs elsewhere this offseason.

Releasing Johnson clears his entire $6.025 million salary from the 49ers' salary cap figure.

Next story:

49ers meeting with Bush

E-mail Niners Digest:

Follow Editor-in-Chief Chris Biderman on Twitter.

Get updates from Niners Digest by following here and become a subscriber to receive access to premium content and analysis.

Niners Digest Top Stories