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A.J. Jenkins was a surprise to many as a first round pick
You can say one thing about 49ers GM Trent Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh. They do not listen to the draft pundits, instead evaluating each player and making their own independent decisions.
The 49ers did this in 2011 as they selected of Aldon Smith with the seventh overall pick. Many, including myself, thought they could have traded down four or five spots and still gotten Smith. However, Smith was their man and they took him.
Obviously, that move worked out tremendously well and if we were to run the 2011 draft all over again, Smith might be the second overall pick, after Cam Newton.
The selection of A.J. Jenkins, with the 30th pick, reminds me a lot of the pick for Aldon Smith. He was a bit under the radar, but the more you look at this selection, the more it makes sense.
At Illinois this past season, one of the weakest passing teams in the country, Jenkins had 90 receptions for 1,276 yards and eight touchdowns. Over his four-year collegiate career, Jenkins had 167 catches for 2,432 yards and 19 touchdowns. His productivity cannot be discounted.
Jenkins also showed very well at the combine, as he ran a 4.39 for his 40 time. Jenkins also has massive hands and can catch the ball away from his body. His 9.5'' hand span is freakishly large.
Although there were those that felt Jenkins would have been available had the 49ers traded down five to 10 spots, they would be wrong. The Rams stated that had Jenkins been available, they would have picked him with the first selection in Round 2.
Jenkins has speed, good hands and is also very intelligent. He will get his degree this May and was an All Big-10 Academic honoree. That intelligence and aptitude is something the 49ers and Harbaugh value greatly.
Jenkins is a hair over 6'0" and weighs 188 pounds. He can catch the ball in traffic, as well as stretch the field with his speed. I believe Jenkins has the potential be the 49ers' top receiver by his second or third season.
One very interesting thing to note is that prior to the draft, Baalke and Harbaugh put a name in an envelope and told the media, this is who we're going to pick. After their selection of Jenkins, they opened the envelope for all to see. The name they had written down was A.J. Jenkins.
Jenkins was obviously the man the 49ers coveted and they got him. They did not want to risk losing him by trading down.