49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

May 10, 2014
Fourth round: 49ers take WR Ellington, DB Johnson


No. 106: Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina. The 49ers finally tapped a wide receiver, landing one of several prospects in this draft class with a basketball background. Ellington was a point guard for the Gamecocks and projects to slot receiver in the NFL. He leaped 39.5 inches at the combine and ran his 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds. At 5-9, 197 pounds, Ellington is undersized, but he showed good toughness and was an excellent blocker with the Gamecocks.

Ellington also has punt- and kick-return experience, meaning that if LaMichael James remains on the squad this season he will have competition. Ellington was not prolific due in part to a Gamecocks offense that spread the ball around. He started 11 of 13 games last year with 49 catches, 775 yards and eight touchdowns. During a conference call, Ellington noted that he played quarterback, defensive back and running back in high school and that he split his college career with basketball. "I feel like I have a lot of growth (at receiver)," he said. "Because I only played it for three years."

No. 129: Dontae Johnson, CB, N.C. State. With their second, fourth-round pick, the 49ers took defensive back Dontae Johnson, who has the size Trent Baalke has been looking for at cornerback -- 6-2, 200. Johnson played both safety and cornerback at N.C. State, but confirmed on a conference call that the 49ers are looking at him as a press-style cornerback. Like first-round pick Jimmie Ward, Johnson lined up at a number of spots in college, including at slot cornerback (see: video below). Johnson scored well at the combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds and leaping 38.5 inches in the vertical jump. He started all 12 games last season with five starts at cornerback and seven at free safety.Johnson may be tall but has shortish arms for his height -- 31 1/2 inches. Hands are 8 5/8 inches.

Johnson also is brainy. He was a double major at N.C. State -- sports management and business administration -- and he also was recruited by Jim Harbaugh to play at Stanford. "Honestly, it was too far," said Johnson, who is from New Jersey. "I wanted to stay closer to home." Johnson had a formal meeting with Harbaugh and the 49ers at the scouting combine at which point the 49ers coach -- as is his custom -- asked Johnson why he turned him down five years ago.

Johnson will join a cornerback group that includes Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver, Eric Wright, Perrish Cox, Chris Cook and Darryl Morris. Ward will compete to be the nickel/slot cornerback.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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