NFL Draft 2012 Results: 49ers Deserve Benefit of Doubt on A.J. Jenkins Pick

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IApril 27, 2012

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 19: A.J. Jenkins #8 of the Illinois Fighting Illini moives across the end zone against the Wisconsin Badgers at Memorial Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Champaign, Illinois. Wisconsin defeated Illinois 28-17. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The first round of the 2012 NFL draft is finished, and fans of the San Francisco 49ers need to settle down and relax about the perception that A.J. Jenkins wasn't worth the pick at No. 30.

After the last couple of years in which Trent Baalke has masterfully maneuvered through the minefields that are free agency and the draft, he's earned the right to be given the benefit of doubt.

Remember, Aldon Smith wasn't a popular pick when they selected him at No. 7 last year. That pick turned out to be a steal—which is saying something at the top of the draft.

Sure, the draftniks didn't have Jenkins ranked as high as he was taken, but NFL teams have a different agenda than guys in the media. 

Jenkins is a special prospect. I had the team taking him in the second round in my final mock draft, but I also expected Cordy Glenn to be a steal at No. 30 if he fell to that spot. Here we are going into the second round, and Glenn is still on the board.

Baalke talked about the pick, via

He was the best player on the board at the time. We had opportunities to trade back and chose not to because we had the player valued where we picked him.

He’s a guy that fits our system very well, from a trait standpoint, from a skills standpoint and has all the off-the-field intangibles that we’re looking for as well. Feel he’s going to be a great fit it in the locker room, a great addition to the offense, and now it’s up to him. It’s up to him to come in here and compete.

The bottom line is that a good player is going to be a good player no matter where they're drafted, especially considering the new CBA allows teams to take less of a financial risk with their first-round picks.

Jenkins is going to be a game-breaking receiver for the 49ers.

Per, the 49ers unofficially clocked him running a 4.31-second 40-yard dash time. That's blazing fast.

He was extremely productive during his time at Illinois—catching 90 passes for 1,276 yards and eight touchdowns—despite the fact that he was their only threat and was constantly double-and-triple teamed as a result.

When you compare Jenkins against the other receivers who were passed up, you come to the conclusion that there really isn't a whole lot that separates them. 

Alshon Jeffery is bigger but slower than Jenkins, and doesn't catch the ball as cleanly.

Stephen Hill is taller, but he's also slower and is significantly more raw than Jenkins.

Rueben Randle is approximately the same kind of receiver Jeffery is, but he has a tendency to catch the ball with this body. 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Jenkins looks gorgeous to Baalke and Jim Harbaugh. 

Until they prove that their ability to evaluate talent has gone down the tubes, I think I'll defer to their good judgement.