SANTA CLARA — Just because it’s happened so often doesn’t make it any easier to break bad news.
In fact, 49ers executives John Lynch and Adam Peters both said Thursday that it’s getting harder and harder to tell veteran defensive back Dontae Johnson he’s been cut from the 53-man roster.
“These conversations, they’re all brutal, but talking to Dontae feels like it’s happened so many times,” Lynch said.
“I think it comes down to ‘Dontae, we like you.’ “So why do you keep doing this?” It’s because we trust him. He is reliable.
Johnson was not on the 49ers’ active roster when the club went from 80 players to the 53 limit in the regular season. But the 49ers are keeping Johnson around. He signed with the 49ers’ practice squad on Wednesday morning.
“We’re grateful and thankful that Dontae believes in this organization enough that he came back for us,” Lynch said. “I promise he will play for us at some point and do a great job. That’s what he does.
Johnson entered the NFL as the 49ers’ fourth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He played four seasons with the 49ers before short stints with Seattle, Buffalo, Arizona and Kansas City. He was part of the 49ers’ final cuts in 2018 and spent a few weeks with the Los Angeles Chargers before returning to the 49ers.
Johnson, 30, has signed contracts with the 49ers a total of 14 times in his career, according to The Athletic.
Johnson’s ability to step into several different positions was a key factor for the 49ers last season.
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Towards the end of the regular season and into the playoffs, he saw significant time at cornerback, nickel back and safety, in addition to special teams.
“He’s always there for us,” Lynch said. “I hate that he didn’t make it because for a lot of the offseason until the end we felt he was.
“(But) some things break on your 53 that you feel like you have to go hard and heavy at other positions. There’s always a down trickle, so you have to make hard calls.
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