When quarterback Josh Johnson joined Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, it appeared to be a match made in heaven.
The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback looked to be a great fit for the 49ers’ West Coast offense and played under Harbaugh during his days at the University of San Diego. Although unlikely that he’d be able to unseat Alex Smith as the starter, Johnson seemed like a quality backup who could help mentor second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
That was until he got cut back in August after falling to fourth on the depth chart behind second-year quarterback Scott Tolzien, an undrafted rookie who started his career with the San Diego Chargers.
After spending a month on the open market, Johnson appears to be weighing his other available options for continuing his football career.
According to Adam Caplan, Johnson has signed a deal with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League (UFL), who open training camp this upcoming week.
As of right now, the Mountain Lions only other legitimate option at quarterback is Fresno State product Ryan Colburn, who spent last season with the team after a short-lived attempt at the NFL. Considering his experience and dynamic abilities as a scrambling gunslinger, Johnson shouldn’t have too much trouble earning some playing time in Sacramento.
The Mountain Lions have gone to the NFL scrap pile before in hopes of bolstering their talent at the quarterback spot. Daunte Culpepper, a long-time NFL passer who made his biggest mark with the Minnesota Vikings, played with the team in 2010 and 2011.
Richard Bartel, who was recently with the Arizona Cardinals, and McLeod Bethel-Thompson, the Vikings’ current No. 3, both got themselves on the NFL radar while playing with Sacramento.
Many NFL players looking to resurrect their careers have joined the still-growing UFL while waiting for injuries to make them relevant. The Mountain Lions have proven to be a solid incubator for quarterbacks headed for – or back into – the NFL, which makes this a great move for Johnson.