SANTA CLARA -- Cornerback Dontae Johnson, who turned down Jim Harbaugh's scholarship offer to Stanford, will be playing for the spurned coach after all. The North Carolina State product became a fourth-round draft pick Saturday by the 49ers.
"Honestly it was too far. I wanted to stay closer to home," Johnson, a New Jersey native, said of passing on Stanford. "I guess now I'll have to be making that trip. It's pretty cool, coming to California."
Johnson (6-2, 200 pounds) brings a physical style to a 49ers cornerbacks corps looking to replace former starters Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown.
Although his size may be similar to Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, Johnson isn't necessarily trying to mimic his style.
"Great athlete, great competitor, but his work ethic got him where he is. Hopefully I can be half the man he was," Johnson said. "I'm not Richard Sherman. I'm Dontae Johnson. I hope to build my name through my work ethic."
The 49ers figure to start Tramaine Brock at one cornerback with Chris Culliver, Eric Wright, Perrish Cox and Chris Cook competing for the other spot.
Johnson's experience at cornerback, safety and nickel back provides versatility, as does Jimmie Ward, the defensive back the 49ers took No. 1. Johnson was a star safety and wideout at Pennington Prep (N.J.). He had a team-high three interceptions and five pass defenses last season for the Wolfpack.
"I feel like a lot of teams were looking at me as a press corner," Johnson said. "My press and speed was proven at the combine. A lot of teams were looking at me as a physical corner."
Johnson already has graduated from North Carolina State after majoring in both sports medicine and business administration.