SFI Exclusive Interview: WR Bryant Johnson

Bryant Johnson is embarking on the opportunity of his football lifetime this year with the 49ers, and he sees himself and his new team "having fun on Sundays" in San Francisco's revamped offense. In an exclusive interview with SFI, Johnson talks about fitting in with a new team and offense and gives his impressions of what's going on with the Niners along with his expectations of what's to come.

Q: After spending your first five NFL seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, how do you view the opportunity you are getting here this year with the 49ers?
Johnson:
I look at it as a great opportunity. This is a team that I admired growing up, one of my favorite teams. Jerry Rice is my favorite player. So just being with a team with so much history and so much upside with the addition of Mike Martz, who is truly going to help out the offense. There's a lot of playmakers on our offense, so I think there's going to be fun times here.

Q: When you were on the open market as a free agent, what were you looking for, and what made you ultimately decide to sign a one-year deal with the 49ers?
Johnson:
I was looking more so for a place I can fit into, a place that needed help at the wide receiver position, that I could come in right away and help out and bring in my veteran leadership, you know, being around for a while, and this is just a group of guys I can see myself having fun with out there on Sundays.

Q: What do you think of the personnel that already is assembled here that you'll be working with at the receiver position?
Johnson:
With the addition of Isaac Bruce, and with Arnaz (Battle) being here already, you know Ashley (Lelie) has been around for a while, I think we have a good core of guys. The sky's the limit for this offense. With the playmakers we have we should be able to do some things on Sundays.

Q: What's your feeling about coming in here and starting off as a starter at split end from the get-go?
Johnson:
Regardless of where I am, I am going to work hard. I just look at is as incentive to push myself even harder. For the younger guys to see myself pushing, even though I may be a starter already, that's not going to stop me from working. I just want to go out there and work hard every day. There's always a point of emphasis to get better regardless of the level of success you may achieve. I'm going to work hard every day.

Q: What was it like for you to be a first-round draft choice stuck as a No. 3 receiver in Arizona behind talented starters Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald?
Johnson:
It just forced me to work harder. Regardless of the situation, I'm going to work hard. Each day in practice we all went out there and pushed each other regardless of who was starting and who wasn't. We were going to push each other to be the best we could be. That was just the way it was. My opportunities weren't as great as they're going to be here, but with the opportunities I had, I tried to do the most with it. I was playing alongside two real good receivers, two Pro Bowl-caliber receivers. They are guys who I grew with. We all grew together and learned together, so it was a great experience.

Q: What are your impressions of working within the Mike Martz offense?
Johnson:
It's a great offense. It's going to be tough for defenses to try to stop us, because we have something for almost everything. We have the playmakers to get it done. That goes from the running game to the line of scrimmage with the offensive line. We have quarterbacks who can get the job done, receivers and tight ends that can get the job done. Now it's just about fine-tuning small things and paying attention to detail things that are just going to make us better offensively.

Q: Is this a dream offense for a wide receiver?
Johnson:
It definitely is, because you're going to get opportunities. As long as you do things the way they are taught and pay attention to detail, you should find yourself open a lot. There's enough playmakers in this offense that nobody can really key on one person because you're going to have a lot of guys that can get the job done at their given position, so it's going to be fun. I think that's main thing for us, is we're going to be having fun out there.

Q: Considering you're on a one-year contract here, and this is an opportunity to really establish yourself as a legitimate NFL starter and perhaps attract a long-term deal for your future, how big is this upcoming season for you personally?
Johnson:
I try not to look too much at that. I just know that I'm in a great situation where my opportunities are going to be more than what I've had in the past and I look forward to that. And I'm going to push myself and work hard so that I can be prepared for it.

Q: From your perspective, what do you bring to this team?
Johnson:
Knowledge, my ability and just my leadership and work ethic. I think those are some things that I've tried to expand upon in my career, and I'm going to continue to do so.

Q: What's your feelings about the revamped wide receiver corps you'll be working with this year and the competition within the unit?
Johnson:
It's friendly competition, just like in Arizona. I think the guys … we're just going to push each other to get better. There's nothing personal about who's playing at what position, we're going to keep pushing each other to make this ball club better.

Q: You're currently penciled in as the starting split end. What's your feelings about playing that position in this offense?
Johnson:
You can move inside, move outside. I'm enjoying where I am right now. It's just about learning the nuances of the offense, studying film of when Martz was with Tory Holt (in St. Louis) and when he was in Detroit with Roy Williams and the things that those guys did at the same position. It's a great position and great opportunity and I'm going to have fun with it.



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