Johnson relishes opportunity to develop, compete

Johnson relishes opportunity to develop, compete
March 23, 2012, 8:01 pm
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Quarterback Josh Johnson has every reason to be thrilled about the opportunity to re-unite with coach Jim Harbaugh.Coming out of Oakland Tech, Johnson did not attract attention from Division I schools. So he ended up at the University of San Diego, an NCAA Division I-AA non-scholarship football program.But it all worked out for Johnson, who had the good fortune to have Harbaugh as his coach. The team won two I-AA Mid-Major national championships during their time together.
Johnson emerged into the first and only USD player to be selected in the NFL draft. In his three seasons as a starter at San Diego, he threw 113 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.As a senior, after Harbaugh's departure to Stanford, Johnson threw a remarkable 43 touchdowns with just one interception.After four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Johnson signed a two-year contract on Thursday with the 49ers.NEWS: 49ers sign QB Johnson to two-year deal
Johnson spoke to the media on Friday, and here is what he had to say:What was told to you about what you'll be allowed to compete for with the 49ers?
"We didn't actually get into the specifics. It wasn't that necessary. As a quarterback, there's one guy out there at a time anyway. So it's about getting reps. And I was told I would get reps and have the opportunity to continue to develop, and then the competition is all about the performance on the practice field and in games."What are your feelings about re-uniting with coach Harbaugh?
"I'm super-excited just to be a part of this organization. (The 49ers) had a great year last year. I know the success will continue because I've played under this coaching staff already. I know what they expect out of the players, and the details that go into the preparation every week that allow the best opportunity to put their players in to be successful. And that's why I'm excited to be a part of that again."When you heard Jim Harbaugh became coach of the 49ers last year, did you think this was going to happen?
"I knew it was a possibility, but you never know in the NFL. So I kind of wanted to play it even-keel and not get too high or too low on it. I wanted to let it play out and see how it happens. By God's blessing, he brought me back here and I ended up signing here. So it all worked out for the better."After free agency began a week ago, how long did it take before you heard from Coach Harbaugh?
"They had reached out to my agent to let them know the interest. There were obviously a lot of other things going on with the whole (Peyton) Manning situation. So I was waiting and seeing where my opportunity came in to take a visit. Once they brought me in yesterday, we finalized the deal last night."When you look at 49ers offense, how similar is it to the University of San Diego?
"It's still West Coast offense. Some things have changed with terminology and formations, but I've also played in different forms of West Coast offense since I've been in the NFL, as well. Some things have changed from San Diego. I feel like it's just about changing over the language in my mind and putting it all back into this offense, which is kind of what I did in college. The concepts are pretty similar from what we did, so it's about getting the language down and understanding what our game plans are going to be about."Did you throw passes with Coach Harbaugh yesterday?
"No, I didn't."What did you guys do?
"I got to walk around and see the facilities, meet everyone in the building, and talk football with a couple coaches. We hung out with the quarterbacks and played a little racquetball."Who won the racquetball game?
"We were all learning how to play. It was my first time."Is that something you guys are going to do regularly?
"I'm not sure. If that's what all the guys want to do, I'll be down for it. It was a pretty fun experience."What do you think Coach Harbaugh was trying to accomplish with that?
"I mean, guys just getting to know each other and becoming teammates. That's more important . . . the team aspect is more important than anything. We all have to be comfortable with each other because even though everybody wants to play, the team is more important thing. We all have to be comfortable with each other and trust each other so we can help one another and help this team be successful."After taking a visit to Washington Redskins, what did the 49ers bring to the table that Washington didn't?
"I knew at the end of the day what I was getting myself into here. And that was the biggest thing I was looking for in free agency -- just wanted to know when I was walking into a situation, that I'd have an opportunity to develop and compete. I know that will happen. And I know Coach has never shot me wrong before. I know it's all about hard work with him and getting it done on the field. And I know coming here, that's what it's going to be all about. And that's the kind of guy I am. I like to prove it on the field. And that's what he allows me to do."Was it your former coach in Tampa, Raheem Morris, who wanted to give you a look in Washington?
"There are a lot of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Washington. There are a lot of people on their staff. I mean, Bruce Allen was the GM who drafted me at Tampa Bay. So there are a lot of people who have familiarity with me. So it was a tough decision, but at the end of the day, this is the right decision, and I'm happy to be here."There will be four QBs in training camp, is there any concern there aren't enough reps to go around?
"I've been in worse situations. I've been in camps with five guys, so it ended up working out. It's about taking advantage of the opportunities that you get."Which of your new teammates did you meet yesterday, and had you met Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick before?
"No, I just met them yesterday. I met a couple other guys. Ted Ginn . . . I met Ted Ginn last year at a celebrity basketball event in Oakland. I met Anthony Dixon yesterday and Kendall Hunter, as well. There are a lot of new faces. I'm trying to remember faces and put names with faces. That'll probably take me a couple days."Where did you play racquetball?
"I have no clue."Did Harbaugh play with you guys, too?
"Yes, everyone was playing. He's pretty good."Why will you do better here than you did in Tampa Bay?
"I'm not a future-teller, but just in predicting things and what will give you the best situation to be successful. I mean, my college career kind of really told me, look at what I did playing for these coaches. Playing in this offense, I had tremendous success. We won so many games. We accomplished so much as a team and we changed so much in San Diego. I remember the maturity I gained from being down there under this coaching staff, and how I grew up as an individual, and how I grew up as a football player, as well. So why not do that in the pros, as well, to be able to grow up in the pros under the same coaching staff that I grew up in college under?"As a player, what as the biggest difference Harbaugh made in you?
"He really just showed me how to trust in my abilities. Coming out of high school, my body was still developing, so I would doubt myself at times. But he just showed me how to play the quarterback position with confidence and be precise about everything and how you can really play it above your neck, control the game, as well, and when you use your athletic abilities, it's a plus. He really showed me a lot of playing the quarterback position."How did you end up at the University of San Diego?
"I wasn't recruited out of high school. I was pretty small kid. So I was still developing. I was probably 5-11, 145 pounds in high school. So Coach (Harbaugh) got the job, and one of the local coaches, Alonzo Carter, they had a conversation about me. He came and visited me at my high school, Oakland Tech, and we hit it off from there. And I ended up going down there and playing at San Diego."Did you know who he was when he visited you?
"Yeah, most definitely. I've been a football fan and always been a football junkie. So I knew exactly who he was."Why do you think you guys hit it off back then?
"I think just our love for the game. It was a mutual thing that brought two different people from two different places together. And that's what brought us together and it propelled everything else because from the moment I met him, I could tell his love for football. He always wanted to talk football and that's the kind of guy I was. I just wanted to talk football all the time and learn something new about football. Once I got around him, I was able to do that."What are your plans now, as far as moving back to the Bay Area?
"I always come home in the offseason, anyway, being from Oakland. So, now, I'm going to go back to Tampa and gather all my things up and go back to doing what I normally do in the offseason. But now I get to work out at the facility here and be around my teammates and coaches. So I'm going to do what I normally do, just do it out here."