June 4, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comJohn Henry Johnson, a member of the 49ers' famed "Million Dollar Backfield," died Friday. He was 81.Johnson's death comes less than six weeks after Joe "The Jet" Perry passed away. Johnson, Perry, Hugh McElhenny and Y.A. Tittle comprised the only full-house backfield to have all four of its members enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame."I was deeply saddened to hear of John Henry Johnson's passing," 49ers owner and co-chairman John York said. "He was a good friend, not only to my family and me, but the entire 49ers organization. As a member of 'The Million Dollar Backfield' he holds a cherished place in both 49ers and NFL history. His contributions to the game of football will be forever celebrated. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the entire Johnson family."
When Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound fullback, retired after the 1966 season he ranked behind only Jim Brown, Jim Taylor and Perry in NFL career rushing with 6,803 yards.He played just three seasons with the 49ers, and gained 1,051 yards rushing in 31 games. He was traded to the Detroit Lions in 1957, where he won an NFL championship. In 1960, he moved on to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he enjoyed his best seasons.Johnson became the first player in Steelers history to rush for more than 1,000 yards, accomplishing the feat in 1962 and '64. He was named to the Pro Bowl four times in his career.Johnson played at Saint Mary's College in Moraga until the school discontinued football. After transferring to Arizona State, Johnson was a second-round draft pick of the Steelers. He opted to play his first professional season in the Canadian Football League.When he entered the NFL with the 49ers in 1954, he rushed for 681 yards with a lofty 5.3-yard average.Johnson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
The Buffalo Bills have signed two 49ers free agents within the past two days.
After signing wide receiver Rod Streater on Wednesday, the Bills announced the signing of linebacker Gerald Hodges on Thursday.
The 49ers acquired Hodges in a 2015 trade with the Minnesota Vikings for center Nick Easton and a sixth-round draft pick. Hodges started 12 games last season and ranked second on the team with 92 tackles.
Hodges left the 49ers shorthanded for a late-season game against the Atlanta Falcons when he violated team rules. Then-coach Chip Kelly did not disclose the nature of Hodges infraction. Hodges offered no explanation or apology.
The 49ers entered the game against the high-powered Falcons with just two healthy inside linebackers due to Hodges’ deactivation. Starter Nick Bellore sustained an elbow injury on the third play of the game, and the 49ers were forced to use safeties Antoine Bethea and Vinnie Sunseri, and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks at various points of the game.
The 49ers showed no interest in re-signing Hodges as a free agent.
Streater, a five-year NFL veteran, saw action in all 16 games last season after being acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in September. He caught 18 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.
The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.
An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.
Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.
"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.
Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.
"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.