49ers NFL Draft history: Happy 10-year anniversary to lowly 2012 draft class!

A.J. Jenkins #17 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
A.J. Jenkins #17 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /
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A.J. Jenkins, 49ers
A.J. Jenkins #17 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

49ers 2012 NFL Draft: A retrospect

A.J. Jenkins is surely going to be ranked among the worst 49ers NFL Draft picks of all time, but it shouldn’t necessarily be all his fault.

Recalling many a big board from the era, Jenkins was projected by plenty of draft pundits to be a Round 3 pick at best, only a handful of mocks and boards suggesting he’d sneak into the second round. Trent Baalke, however, ultimately elected to use the No. 30 overall pick on Jenkins anyway.

Yeah, that didn’t work.

Starting off with Jenkins, let’s recall what each of the Niners’ 2012 picks did during their respective San Francisco tenures.

WR A.J. Jenkins

The 49ers’ top pick from 2012 was inactive for the bulk of his rookie season, seeing only three regular-season games and being targeted only once, a pass he subsequently dropped.

The Niners shipped him off to the Kansas City Chiefs the following offseason in a bust exchange for fellow wideout Jonathan Baldwin, and Jenkins was out of the league in 2015.

RB LaMichael James

In fairness, LaMichael James was pretty electric at Oregon, still beloved in Eugene to this day.

However, he didn’t jell with Jim Harbaugh’s power-run offense whatsoever, and he saw only four games his rookie season and pretty much served on special teams only as a return specialist.

He, too, was off San Francisco’s roster by 2014 and completely out of the league in 2015.

OL Joe Looney

Of all the 49ers’ picks in 2012, Joe Looney was the only one to produce a relatively respectable NFL career, sticking around with the Niners for three years and appearing in 19 games for them before becoming a journeyman offensive lineman until his retirement with the New York Giants entering 2021.

LB Darius Fleming

Darius Fleming spent his rookie year on the physically unable-to-perform list, didn’t make the 53-man roster in 2013, and then spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons bouncing on and off the New England Patriots’ roster.

DB Trent Robinson

San Francisco gave Trent Robinson one year to make an impact, and he saw three games his rookie season and entirely on special teams.

But the 49ers waived Robinson a year later, and he subsequently bounced around the league for a bit before being out of it altogether in 2016.

OL Jason Slowey

Jason Slowey never saw action in a regular-season NFL game and was let go by the Niners at the end of his rookie preseason.

EDGE Cam Johnson

After limited action his rookie year, Cam Johnson became a modest exhibition hero during the 2013 preseason, which led to San Francisco trading him to the Indianapolis Colts prior to Week 1.

Johnson ended up hanging around the league into 2018, which is a bit of an accomplishment in itself, and he also registered three sacks and 32 tackles for the Cleveland Browns in 2016.

Perhaps the 49ers should have kept this one player instead.