Jimmy Johnson (cornerback)

James Earl Johnson (born March 31, 1938) is a former American football player and track athlete.

Johnson was born in Dallas and raised in Kingsburg, California. He is the younger brother of Rafer Johnson, winner of the decathlon gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics. Johson played college football and ran track at UCLA. He won the NCAA 110-meter hurdles championship and was named an All-American in track and field.

Johnson was the sixth player selected in the 1961 NFL Draft and played for the San Francisco 49ers in the National Football League (NFL) from 1961 to 1976. He was selected four times as a first-team All-Pro and played in five Pro Bowls. His jersey (No. 37) was permanently retired by the 49ers in 1977. In 1980, he was named as a first-string cornerback on the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, and in 1994 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Jimmy Johnson
refer to caption
Johnson in January 2014
No. 37
Position:Cornerback, safety, wide receiver
Personal information
Born:March 31, 1938 (age 80)
Dallas, Texas
Career information
High school:Kingsburg
(Kingsburg, California)
NFL Draft:1961 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Interception yards:615
Interception return TDs:2
Receiving yards:690
Receiving touchdowns:4
Player stats at NFL.com

Early years

Johnson was born in 1938 in Dallas.[1] His family moved to central California when Johnson was a boy. He attended Kingsburg High School in Kingsburg in Fresno County.[2][3]

Johnson's older brother Rafer Johnson preceded him as a multi-sport star at Kingsburgh High School and UCLA, ultimately winning the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1960 Summer Olympics.[2][3]


Johnson attended UCLA and played for the UCLA Bruins football team as a wingback and defensive back.[4] He totaled 812 yards from scrimmage in 1959 and 1960.[5] Johnson also competed in track at UCLA, won the NCAA 110-meter hurdles championship, and was named an All-American in track and field.[2]

NFL career

Johnson was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round (sixth overall pick) of the 1961 NFL Draft and by the San Diego Chargers in the fourth round (31st overall pick) of the 1961 AFL Draft.[1] He signed with the 49ers in June 1961.[6] As a rookie, Johnson appeared in 12 games for the 1961 49ers, played at the cornerback position, and intercepted five passes for a career-high 116 return yards. He became a wide receiver in 1962 and caught 34 passes for 626 yards and four touchdowns. His most productive game as a wide receiver came against the Detroit Lions, in which he caught 11 passes for 181 yards. Earlier that season, he caught a game-winning 80-yard touchdown reception against the Chicago Bears, which at the time was the longest scoring pass in 49ers history.[7] Johnson returned to defense in 1963 and played principally at safety and cornerback for the rest of his career. He remained with the 49ers for 16 years through the 1976 season, appearing in 213 NFL games.[1]

During his 16 years in the NFL, Johnson intercepted 47 passes for 615 return yards and two touchdowns in his NFL career. He was selected four times as a first-team All-Pro: 1969 (AP, UPI), 1970 (AP, NEA, Pro Football Writers, Pro Football Weekly), 1971 (AP, NEA, Pro Football Writers, Pro Football Weekly), and 1972 (AP, NEA, Pro Football Writers, Pro Football Weekly). He was also selected to play in five Pro Bowls (19691972, 1974).[1] According to his biography at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Johnson is regarded as "one of the best man-to-man defenders in history."[4]

Later years and honors

Johnson has received numerous honors for his football career, including the following:

  • In 1977, the 49ers retired Johnson's jersey (No. 37) during halftime of a Monday night game dubbed "Jimmy Johnson Night at Candlestick Park."[8]
  • In 1978, Johnson was inducted into the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "Jimmy Johnson Stats". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "1978 Inductees". Fresno County Athletic Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "They Shall Not Pass-That's Johnson's Credo". The Sporting News. November 21, 1970.
  4. ^ a b "Jimmy Johnson Biography". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
  5. ^ "Jim Johnson College Stats". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
  6. ^ "Kilmer, Johnson Sign 49er Pacts". Reno Gazette-Journal. June 14, 1961. p. 20.
  7. ^ "49ers Snap Chicago Jinx On Record Scoring Pass". Daily Independent Journal. United Press International. October 15, 1962. p. 10. Retrieved April 11, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "49ers honor Jimmy Johnson this evening". Ukiah Daily Journal. December 12, 1977. p. 6.
  9. ^ "Shula, Guy, O.J. on All-Decade team". The Akron Beacon-Journal. August 3, 1980. p. C12.
  10. ^ "1990". Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on June 16, 2011. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
  11. ^ "Names in the News". Los Angeles Times. April 21, 1992. p. C8.
  12. ^ "Dorsett spearheads new picks for Hall". Daily Press (VA). January 30, 1994. p. 5.
  13. ^ "49ers Announce Edward DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame". San Francisco 49ers. May 12, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2016.

External links

1961 NFL Draft

The 1961 National Football League draft took place at the Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia on December 27–28, 1960. The league would later hold an expansion draft for the Minnesota Vikings expansion franchise, and the Vikings were also awarded the first selection position in this draft. This draft was also the first regular draft for the Dallas Cowboys as they had only participated in the 1960 NFL expansion draft that year. The Cowboys held the worst record in the NFL the previous season, but selected second in this draft because of the entry of the Vikings into the league.

Kingsburg, California

Kingsburg (formerly, Kings River Switch, Wheatville, Kingsbury, Drapersville, Farleyville, and Kingsburgh) is a city in Fresno County, California. Kingsburg is located 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Selma at an elevation of 302 feet (92 m), on the banks of the Kings River. The city is half an hour away from Fresno, and two hours away from the California Central Coast and Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The population was 11,382 at the 2010 census.

San Francisco 49ers draft history

This page is a list of San Francisco 49ers NFL Draft selections. The first draft the 49ers participated in was the 1950 NFL Draft, in which they made Leo Nomellini of Minnesota their first ever selection.

Running backs
Wide receivers /
Tight ends
Pre-modern era
two-way players
Defensive backs
and punters

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