I think it is safe to say that San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is the ultimate player’s coach. He has the innate ability to get the most out of his players and expects nothing less. However, one player who has been clearly underachieving, is last year’s first-round pick A.J. Jenkins. A huge disappointment, Jenkins has shown absolutely nothing to warrant his first-round selection. Though he only played three games during the regular season, the Illinois product failed to have a single reception. That is right, Jenkins finished the season with a big goose egg! Is it too early to call him the “b “word? I think not. However, with the 49ers projected to have 14 draft picks in the upcoming draft, it will be interesting to see how they prioritize the wide receivers unit.
Aside from Jenkins, the 49ers only have three healthy wide-receivers currently under contract including, WR Michael Crabtree, WR Ricardo Lockette, and WR Chad Hall. And with WR Kyle Williams and WR Mario Manningham coming off season-ending injuries, their ability to regain their form is questionable. So how much faith does Harbaugh have in Jenkins?
Apparently not enough to call his number. Jenkins was only targeted once during his short NFL career, a drop that would have resulted in a first-down, but instead fell incomplete. If the 49ers feel they made a mistake, we will certainly know based on free agency and the NFL Draft, as the 49ers will surely be in the market for a complimentary receiver. There have already been rumors swirling around the 49ers need for a wide receiver, namely Percy Harvin.
However, once the free-agency period begins, other receivers will be on the Niners radar including, WR Greg Jennings, WR Josh Cribbs, and WR Ramses Barden. All of those players are capable of stretching the field much like WR Randy Moss did last year. Furthermore, they are much younger and capable of being groomed into a permanent role instead of a quick fix.
As the 49ers continue in their “Quest for Six,” they will need to figure out if Jenkins is capable of being the player they had envisioned. A first-round talent with an abundance of potential, Jenkins will undoubtedly be labeled a “bust,” much like other 49ers first-rounders, CB Mike Rumph, T Kwame Harris, WR Rashaun Woods, LB Manny Lawson, and DE Kentwan Balmer.