Why the 49ers Signed Kerryon Johnson to their Practice Squad

Johnson was the Detroit Lions' second-round draft pick in 2018, and he's only 24.
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Here's what to know about the newest member of the 49ers practice squad: running back Kerryon Johnson.

Johnson was the Detroit Lions' second-round draft pick in 2018, and he's only 24. In his final season at Auburn, he rushed for 1391 yards and 18 touchdowns in just 12 games. And during his rookie season with the Lions, he averaged a whopping 5.4 yards per carry. He looked like their best running back since Barry Sanders.

But his second season, he averaged a measly 3.6 yards per carry, then missed eight games with a torn meniscus, and he never has been the same since then. In 2020, he appeared in all 16 games for the Lions, but rushed only 52 times and averaged just 3.5 yards per carry. So the Lions waived him.

And the Eagles claimed him off waivers. That's right, the team the 49ers will play this Sunday. They brought Johnson into training camp and gave him two carries during the preseason -- he gained 12 yards. And then they cut him, too. Which means Johnson's career is on life support.

That's because Johnson still hasn't recovered from his knee injury, and maybe never will. He plays with a big, bulky knee brace, which could signify his injury is a mental hurdle he hasn't gotten over.

And that's probably why the 49ers signed him. The 49ers love adding players who have a history of knee injuries, because the 49ers believe they can rehabilitate them. That's why they signed Jason Verrett and drafted Javon Kinlaw. So Johnson will fit right into the 49ers' locker room.

An ideal world, the 49ers won't have to play Johnson this season. But given their awful luck with injuries, they probably will need him soon rather than later.