Jauan Jennings has done enough to make 49ers roster in 2021

Jauan Jennings #15 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Jauan Jennings #15 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

After landing on the practice squad last season, 49ers wide receiver Jauan Jennings has already shown enough to make the 53 man roster in 2021.

There are a number of takeaways one can draw from the experience of San Francisco 49ers second-year wide receiver Jauan Jennings and his pro career.

First, the obvious. Young players develop and mature in different ways and at different rates.

Second, and something that was likely much more of an X-factor last year, the 2020 pandemic that eliminated rookie minicamps, organized team activities and the preseason caused plenty of rookies to suffer from stunted development a season ago.

Jennings included, as his training camp efforts in 2020 weren’t overly impressive after the Niners selected him in Round 7 of last year’s NFL Draft out of Tennessee.

San Francisco ultimately decided to place Jennings on the practice squad, and he never got to crack the 53-man roster after dealing with injuries and despite the team being shorthanded at the position anyway.

A year later, however, Jennings appears to be an entirely different player.

Jauan Jennings deserves a spot on 49ers’ 53-man roster

One might argue teams decide their 53-man rosters primarily based upon training camp performances, leaving final determining factors on preseason efforts.

According to multiple reports stemming from 49ers camp, Jennings was a standout and a surefire candidate to land a wide-open tertiary role on the depth chart. While Jennings might ultimately lose out on this job to someone like the veteran, Mohamed Sanu, the second-year receiver should surely find himself on the active roster come Week 1.

The Niners’ 2021 exhibition opener against the Kansas City Chiefs revealed further evidence, too. Over the course of 38 offensive snaps, the most out of any San Francisco wideout during the game, Jennings registered two rushes for 23 yards and also hauled in a pass for 26, netting him 49 yards from scrimmage.

Even against second-rate defensive competition, those numbers are pretty good. And those efforts caught the eye of head coach Kyle Shanahan, too, who told reporters the following about Jennings:

"I was excited with how Jauan played. I mean, he’s a physical guy who loves to play football and I wanted to see it transfer over to the game and make sure he could still stay under enough control and do his assignments also. And if you watched him in the running game, he really got after it trying to bring the maximum effort every play. How he dug out those safeties on blocks, how he’s blocking on the backside, on the corners.And then when he got his opportunities when the ball was thrown to him, he came through. We hit him on that seam and on a couple of screens that he hit hard and got us, I think, two first downs on them."

The fact Shanahan and the 49ers gave Jennings so many snaps during the game could suggest one of two things, even both.

Jennings needs more pro-level reps, particularly in light of not having a preseason a year ago and subsequently landing on the practice squad. And/or it could mean the Niners aren’t quite yet convinced Jennings has done enough to make the regular-season roster, so the added field time could ultimately generate some additional conclusive evidence.

Read More: 5 fringe players who impressed in 49ers’ preseason loss to Chiefs

Based upon the box score, game tape where Jennings flashed both strength and some speed, and when combined with Shanahan’s comments, it’s looking like Jennings has done more than enough.

Granted, San Francisco’s wide receiver depth chart remains awfully fluid towards the back end, and Jennings could still end up being played a lot with both second- and third-string units over the team’s final two preseason games before Week 1.

But looking at the cumulative output from camp and his first preseason outing, Jennings should be as close to a lock for the 53-man roster as can be.

Next. Rethinking 49ers' 53-man roster after first wave of cuts. dark