Last week the San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their three-day mandatory minicamp at team headquarters in Santa Clara. There were many storylines coming out of the minicamp with the struggles of first round draft pick A.J. Jenkins being the most troubling. The wide receiver, who has yet to sign a contract with the 49ers, showed up to the rookie minicamp in May out of shape and looked winded and tired for most of the practices. After the rookie minicamp, it seemed as if Jenkins was in shape, just not in NFL football shape and everything would be good the next time he was on the field for a minicamp, however, issues still remain.
I’m back home [in Jacksonville] and thinking I’m in shape — working out in the morning time. You definitely see [this] is a totally different ball game, so you’ve got to get your mind right. (A.J. Jenkins)
It is not uncommon for rookies to think they are in football shape when they show up for their first practice. When they get out on the field with NFL veterans for the first time is when they realize how different the college and the pro levels are, including your conditioning level. What is troublesome with Jenkins is during the three-day minicamp it was reported he looked in better shape, however, his production on the field was one of the worst at wide receiver. Two different and respectable 49ers blogs who were in attendance at the minicamp had this to say about Jenkins:
From the Sacramento Bee:
The truth, however, is that Jenkins had a rough spring. He had a hard time staying on his feet, fighting for position and often – very often — was on the ground after the play. And this was in non-contact practices.
On draft day, GM Trent Baalke acknowledged that Jenkins needed to hit the weight room, and that need for improved strength was evident. To his credit, Jenkins didn’t have any of the ticky tacky injuries that often befall wide receivers, especially young ones, in the offseason. And he continued to fight throughout the spring sessions. It will be interesting to look for progress from him when the pads come on in training camp.
From the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
The Niners first round pick looked like one of the worst wide receivers on the field most of minicamp. He didn’t play with the first- or second-team offense on Tuesday, and he didn’t catch a pass in scrimmages on Wednesday. He had trouble staying on his feet all three days, which was odd considering it was a non-contact minicamp. Overall, undrafted receivers Nathan Palmer and Brian Tyms caught many more passes and made more impressive plays than Jenkins did. There’s no rush for Jenkins to produce, though, because there seem to be at least four good wide receivers above him on the depth chart right now – Crabtree, Moss, Manningham and Williams.
It’s hard to say what might be the issue with Jenkins. There could be an injury we don’t know about. He could be distracted with the contract negotiations and signing process. There has not been much news on the contract process between Jenkins agent and the 49ers, which could be a good or a bad thing. He could be dealing with personal issues off the field. All we know is Jenkins has not looked like a first round draft pick in the rookie and mandatory minicamps.
Jenkins was an under the radar draft pick for the 49ers and it could be argued there was more talent and better options for the team not only at other positions, but at wide receiver. Unfortunately for the 49ers with their first-round pick looking so off during minicamps, most likely means he won’t be high up on the depth chart at wide receiver. Luckily for the 49ers they have tremendous depth and will do just fine with Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and Kyle Williams to lead the way until Jenkins finally comes around.
But if you were to ask Jim Harbaugh about his thoughts on Jenkins, everything is going as planned:
Very gung-ho. Very fast, fast, fast. He’s got excellent hands. He’s got the ability to get in and out of cuts with his foot speed. And the turnover, he doesn’t get stuck in routes. He doesn’t get stuck at the top of the routes. He’s able to get out of those cuts. And he’s right on track. A.J. Jenkins is going to be just fine.