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49ers Sign Ex-Steelers ILB Buddy Johnson to Practice Squad

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Steelers ILB Buddy Johnson

PITTSBURGH — The San Francisco 49ers have signed former Pittsburgh Steelers draft pick Buddy Johnson to their practice squad.

Johnson, 23, was the Steelers’ fourth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M, but was released after barely making an impact on the club.

In 2021, Johnson was the team’s fifth inside linebacker behind Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, Robert Spillane, Marcus Allen and Ulysses Gilbert III. Johnson was inactive for most of the season, dressing in just four games when other players were injured.

When he did play, it was mostly on special teams. On the season, Johnson played in 59 snaps of special teams and just six snaps of defense. He finished with just two tackles.

This summer, even with Gilbert suffering a season-ending injury, Johnson was unable to crack the top group, and rookie sixth-round draft pick Mark Robinson made the 53-man roster ahead of Johnson.

It’s unclear whether it was the Steelers or Johnson that was uninterested in him joining the team’s practice squad. The club chose to sign former Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebacker Chapelle Russell to its practice squad instead.

In San Francisco, Johnson will transition from 3-4 inside linebacker back to the same 4-2 Nickel base defense he played at Texas A&M. He’ll slot behind Al-Shaair Azeez, Oren Burks, Demetrius Flanningan-Fowles, Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner, who are on the 49ers’ active roster at linebacker.

Johnson is the second is the second of the Steelers’ nine draft picks from the 2021 NFL Draft to leave the team. Outside linebacker Quincy Roche was lost on waivers to the New York Giants early in last season.

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