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SANTA CLARA – After three 1,000-yard seasons with the Buffalo Bills, wide receiver Stevie Johnson is looking to prove himself with his new team after experiencing a significant drop in production last season.
The 49ers acquired Johnson in an offseason trade. He does not come to the 49ers as a potential No. 1 receiver with Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree already on the roster. But Johnson is the front-runner to give the 49ers something they haven't had in a long time -- a competent No. 3 option.
“I want to solidify myself in camp as a contributor to the team,” Johnson said. “I think that’s what we all want to do, be a valuable piece or asset to a championship team.”
Johnson did nothing to hurt himself on the first day of training camp. After missing most of the offseason program with a hamstring strain, Johnson had a nice showing with a few catches in 7-on-7 and team drills. His best play was an outstretched grab and tight-rope act along the sideline against the coverage of 49ers rookie cornerback Dontae Johnson.
The 49ers are in considerably better shape at wide receiver this season with Johnson, Brandon Lloyd, along with youngsters Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington, joining Boldin and Crabtree. Johnson said he likes the kind of depth the 49ers have accumulated.
“It feels good. I can’t lie,” he said. “It feels good to know that you got other guys that can make big plays. It’s not all on your shoulders. I’m happy to be a part of it, and I’m sure the guys are happy to have me on the squad with them and get this thing rolling.”
Although Johnson did not get much of an opportunity to get on the field and catch passes from Kaepernick during the offseason months, Kaepernick said it’s a simple adjustment to incorporate Johnson into the passing game.
“He’s another guy that’s easy to throw to because he creates so much separation,” Kaepernick said. “Very quick, very deceptive, and I’m happy he’s on our side of the ball.”