UCLA head football coach Rick Neuheisel announced today that Mike Johnson, who spent the 2010 season as offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers, has been named offensive coordinator at UCLA. Johnson and Neuheisel will be reunited after working together with the Baltimore Ravens in 2006 and 2007 and he is one of five Bruin assistants with NFL experience.
In addition to serving as the offensive coordinator, Johnson will coach the wide receivers and Neuheisel will coach the quarterbacks.
“During my assessment of our program, I felt it was necessary for me to be more involved in the day-to-day operation of the offense,” Neuheisel said. “I decided that going forward, I will coach the quarterbacks and will be more hands-on in the area of play calling with a new coordinator.
“Mike is a great addition to our staff. He has a background with a multitude of offensive schemes, has coached several different positions and has experience in our conference as well as in the National Football League. Mike brings a wealth of knowledge and adds versatility to our offense and I can’t wait to get in the film room and start planning for 2011 and the Pac-12.
“In addition, Mike is a dynamic and tireless recruiter who is familiar with the Pac-12 area and, in particular, southern California. He will be a great plus for our program in this important area.”
More from the UCLA release after the jump…
Johnson, 43, spent two seasons (2009-10) with the 49ers, coaching the quarterbacks. He took over the offensive coordinator duties early in the 2010 season (September 27). In 2010, the 49ers ranked No. 18 in the NFL in passing yards (209.8), No. 18 in yards per pass attempt (7.2), No. 19 in rushing yards (103.6) and T-No. 17 in yards per carry (4.1). Alex Smith completed 59.6% of his passes for 2,370 yards – the second-highest total of his career – 14 touchdowns and a career-high 82.1 quarterback rating.
Johnson hit the ground running in his first two games calling the offense, opening consecutive games with touchdown drives, something the 49ers had not done since the 2004 season.
Known for his attention to fundamentals and detail, Johnson played a significant role in developing the team’s quarterbacks in 2009. Quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Alex Smith combined for 23 touchdown passes on the season, marking the highest total in a single season by San Francisco since 2003 (25). After Hill started the first six games of the season, Smith earned his way back into the starting lineup after having not played a regular season game in over two years due to injury. Under Johnson’s tutelage, Smith stepped in and had the best 10-game stretch of his career, setting career highs in touchdown passes (18), completion percentage (60.5) and quarterback rating (81.5 – topped in 2010).
Prior to joining the 49ers, Johnson served as the wide receivers coach in Baltimore from 2006 to 2007 (Neuheisel was quarterbacks coach during those two years). With the Ravens, he helped 12-year veteran receiver Derrick Mason record his sixth 1,000-yard season in 2007. Mason tallied 1,087 yards on 103 receptions with five touchdowns, leading the team in all receiving categories. A year prior, WR Mark Clayton developed into the Ravens top deep threat and playmaker, posting three touchdowns of 62-or-more yards.
Prior to joining Baltimore, Johnson spent three years as the quarterbacks coach with the Atlanta Falcons, tutoring three-time Pro Bowl QB Michael Vick. Vick put up 2,412 passing yards and 15 touchdowns, while ranking second on the team with 597 rushing yards and six touchdowns, in 2005. In 2004, Vick became the first NFL quarterback to throw for more than 250 yards and run for more than 100 yards in a single game (at Denver on Oct. 31, 2004).
In 2003, Interim Head Coach Wade Phillips asked Johnson to call the Falcons offensive plays for the final two games of the season. In those two contests, Vick compiled his second-highest quarterback rankings of the year (119.2 at Tampa Bay, Dec. 20, 2003, and 93.0 vs. Jacksonville, Dec. 28, 2003).
In 2002, Johnson guided a young Falcons wide receiver corps that included WR Brian Finneran, who had the best year of his career, recording 838 yards on 56 receptions and six touchdowns.
From 2000 to 2001, Johnson served as the quarterbacks coach for the San Diego Chargers. Under Johnson’s guidance, QB Doug Flutie amassed career-highs with 3,464 yards passing and 294 completions in 2001. Flutie’s passing yards that season were the most for a Chargers quarterback since QB Dan Fouts put up 3,638 yards in 1985. During the 2001 campaign, Flutie threw for more than 300 yards on four occasions.
Johnson coached three seasons at Oregon State, tutoring the quarterbacks in 1999 for Dennis Erickson after serving as the Beavers wide receivers coach for Mike Riley in 1997 and 1998. The Beavers’ record improved in each of his three seasons. In 1999, OSU passed for 3,053 yards, the fifth-highest total in school history.
Johnson played five pro seasons as a quarterback, beginning his career as a rookie free agent with the Arizona Cardinals in 1990. After being released as part of the team’s final cuts of training camp that season, Johnson played two years for the San Antonio Riders of the World League. Johnson moved to the Canadian Football league in 1992 and quarterbacked the British Columbia Lions for two seasons. From 1994 to 1995, he quarterbacked the CFL’s Shreveport Pirates for his final two pro playing years.
Johnson was a backup quarterback at Arizona State in 1985 and 1986. He transferred to Mesa Community College, where he became a Junior College All-American in 1987. Johnson then transferred to the University of Akron, playing for two years (1988-89) and was named Akron’s Athlete of the Year in 1990. In his two years, he accounted for 4,649 yards of total offense – fifth on the school’s career list – including 2,432 (No. 7 in school history) in 1988.