The A.J. Jenkins experiment for the San Francisco 49ers is officially over with his trade to the Kansas City Chiefs. In return, the 49ers received the KC’s own version of Jenkins, Jonathan Baldwin, who is also a former first-round draft pick that has been a disappointment.
[Related Video: Harbaugh Talks Jenkins Trade]
With the injuries to Niners wide receivers in the offseason and training camp, Jenkins had his best opportunity to become a starter and show the team they were right in selecting with their first pick of the 2012 draft. Instead, he will get a fresh start and hopefully can start his stalled career in KC.
The frustrating part for Niner fans is Jenkins failed with so much talent and support surrounding him in San Francisco. In case you forgot, Jim Harbaugh said a year ago about Jenkins, “I’m going to track of these names of these so-called experts that are making these comments and there’s going to be an I told you so. I foresee that happening.” Clearly, that predication was wrong.
All through this year’s training camp, Harbaugh and players like Vernon Davis gave encouraging reviews on Jenkins’ development. But apparently that development either stalled or was not coming along fast enough for the 49ers and their offense. Niner fans saw this first hand in the two preseason games played so far.
The trade was a good move for the Niners as its clear Jenkins no longer fitted into the offenses plans for this season. Even though San Francisco traded for a receiver who is also considered a draft bust, Baldwin has more experience on the field in the regular season. Since 2011, he has appeared in 26 games, recording 41 catches, 579 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Here are some quotes from Harbaugh’s press conference announcing the trade. Below that are quotes from Niner players on what went wrong with Jenkins.
Q. Almost a year ago you gave a really strong statement about A.J., what happened? Why didn’t things work out?
A.J., the why and that kind of thing, I’ll just speak from personal experience. I was rejected by a team, sent to another team and then with the next team my signature years came. So it can be a real positive and that’s what everybody hopes for in this situation. A.J. is a very talented player. He has never been an issue or a problem as a teammate. He competes. He works very hard and there’s no reason that both these guys can’t end up having a great career. Another example, won’t use myself but we’ll use the great [WR] Cris Carter. Receiver in Philadelphia, Buddy Ryan sent him to Minnesota and then a Hall of Fame career ensued. Those are opportunities that both of these young men have and I think they definitely have the ability and license to get that done.
Q. Is two weeks enough time to fully evaluate Baldwin to see if he deserves a shot on the 53-man roster?
We’ll do the best that we possibly can, we’ll see. To really start talking, ‘what ifs’ and ‘if this, if that,’ ‘what if,’ let’s let the two pass the physical and be a 49er or be a Kansas City Chief. And then we can start talking about some of those things.”
Vernon Davis called Jenkins a “tremendous player” with “great potential.” The tight end also said the trade could be a “wake-up call” for Jenkins. He offered the following advice for the former Niners receiver:
Maybe take his approach towards the game up a notch. I think that could be something that he could be benefit from. Just take his approach up a little bit more. Go above and beyond being a professional.
Not on the field. Not his game. I’m just talking about away from the game. As far as study habits — I think he had good study habits when he was here. Just studying. Being a professional. Trying to help himself as well as the younger guys as they come in. And just owning his position. Embracing it. And just going to the next level. And I’m sure he will do that. If he really wants it inside his heart, it will work out for him.
Wide receiver Kyle Williams on the Jenkins trade:
I look at A.J. like my little brother. So seeing him leaving, it’s a little bit of shock to us because that’s family. That’s family going out the door. That’s never good. It’s never a good thing. We’re not having a sigh of relief or anything over here – we hate to see him go.
Knowing A.J. the way I do and having a chance to see him grow over the past year, I know that his talent is there. He didn’t get drafted in the first round for nothing. He’ll get that opportunity, and it will be him to make the most of it, as it’s up to the rest of us to make the most of every opportunity we get in this league. It can go so fast, that you got to take advantage.
He’s got Alex over there – that’ll definitely bring him up to speed. I think he’s going to be a great player in this league. It didn’t work out here. A fresh start will be good for everybody.