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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Josh Johnson moves on, signs with 49ers



You know what they say happens when you assume, right?

On Wednesday, I wrote that Josh Johnson, the Bucs' former backup quarterback, presumably was no longer needed in San Francisco after the team managed to re-sign Alex Smith. So, of course, the 49ers announced tonight that they had, well, signed Josh Johnson.

It's a curious move at first glance, but it makes sense when you consider some pretty obvious factors. We've known all along that Johnson's relationship with coach Jim Harbaugh -- his college coach at the University of San Diego -- could lure him to the Niners. And Johnson is a native of Oakland, meaning this is a chance to play before friends and family, a very unique opportunity.

The downside would be this: Johnson arguably has no better chance of playing in San Francisco than he did in Tampa Bay. Smith will begin the season as the team's starting quarterback, and you have to think it would take nothing less than a major backward step for his status to change at any point.

And even if the 49ers consider playing someone else, they'd still have to decide whether to play Johnson or last year's draft pick, Colin Kaepernick, a player they traded up nine spots to select with the fourth pick in the second round in 2011. Given that investment, it's no sure thing that Johnson would get the call.

But Johnson is going into this with his eyes open. And if anyone will give Johnson a fair shake, it's his college coach, with whom he has a close relationship. Smith, after all, still has to prove he can repeat last year's performance. If he can't, maybe there's a chance Johnson could get another shot to start.

[Last modified: Friday, March 23, 2012 12:27am]


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