Wilks plans to lean heavily on All Pro tailback David Johnson, who will join a crowded field in this year’s Comeback Player of the Year derby.
Although a wrist injury limited Johnson to just one game last season, he is now “100 percent healthy” and “stronger than he’s ever been,” NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport noted on Wednesday’s edition of NFL Up to the Minute.
Because the injury occurred so early in the season, Rapoport explained, Johnson was able to train even harder than normal. The fourth-year dual-purpose threat has renewed his goal of joining former 49ers star Roger Craig and Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk as the only players in history to gain at least 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.
He’s off to a promising start in spring practices, making a strong first impression on Wilks.
“He looked outstanding today,” Wilks told reporters Tuesday. “It’s good to have him back out there. Just flying around and the things that he’s doing right now is pretty exciting.”
Operating behind a solid offensive line in 2016, Johnson fell 121 receiving yards shy of the 1,000/1,000 club. After injuries ravaged the blocking unit last season, Wilks now believes his revamped front line is the strength of the team.
Transitioning from Arians’ offense to new coordinator Mike McCoy’s scheme, Johnson will also have to get used to running behind a fullback for the first time in his pro career.
If the blocking lives up to expectations, Johnson will have a realistic chance to clear 2,000 yards from scrimmage for the second time in his career. If Wilks’ custom-built ground attack stumbles, though, Johnson can kiss his dreams of a top NFL offense goodbye.