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Whatís The Big Difference?
May 18 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
Iíve been a big supporter of tight end Eric Johnson since he joined the team as a seventh round pick. I think he has a very bright future with the team, particularly as a pass catching tight end. The common belief of Johnson is that he did a great job last season - but when looking at his statistics, something doesnít add up.

Last season Johnson hauled in 39 receptions for 318 yards and 3 TDs (Not including 1 reception for 24-yards in the playoffs). By all means these numbers are respectable. But In 2000, Greg Clark brought in 38 receptions for 342 yards and 2 TDs. Very comparable numbers, and yet very few were satisfied with Clarks numbers, but most were satisfied with Johnsonís numbers. What gives?

Iíve come up with two possible theories for the discrepancy. The first is perhaps the most obvious. Eric Johnson was a rookie when he put those numbers up, and Greg Clark a veteran. So, while making far less money, and with far less experience Johnson was able to surpass Greg Clarksí achievements.

My second theory is that because Greg Clark was drafted in the third round, and Eric Johnson the seventh round -never having played tight end before, the expectations for Clark were much higher. Simply put, because of low expectations for Johnson, his success was almost looked at as a bonus rather than an expectation.

These two theories seem to summarize why there was such a discrepancy in the expectations of these two players, and why Eric Johnson seems to have a bright future ahead of him. If he can match a player, with more than three years of experience then him, stride for stride, he should certainly excel at the position.

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