San Francisco 49ers First-Round Wide Receiver AJ Jenkins Still Struggling

Sigmund BloomNFL Draft Lead WriterJune 18, 2012

SANTA CLARA, CA - MAY 11:  A.J. Jenkins #17 of the San Francisco 49ers runs a pass rout during Rookie Minincamp at the San Francisco 49ers practice facility on May 11, 2012 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

San Francisco first-round pick AJ Jenkins got off on the wrong foot in rookie mini camp, sticking out in a bad way because of his poor conditioning. Now, he's having trouble even staying on his feet in practices.

Sacramento Bee beat writer Matt Barrows reports that, despite head coach Jim Harbaugh's praise for Jenkins' speed and proclamation that the rookie is "right on track," the reality is that Jenkins had a "rough spring." Barrows writes that Jenkins was getting pushed around in non-contract practices and often finishing plays on the ground.

General manager Trent Baalke was a little more honest than Harbaugh, acknowledging that Jenkins needs to make strides and work on his strength, according to Barrows. Barrows gives Jenkins credit for not getting any of "ticky tacky injuries" that wide receivers suffer in the offseason, but that is faint praise for a player that came in with high expectations.

Santa Rosa Press-Democrat beat writer Grant Cohn didn't even have faint praise for Jenkins, calling him "one of the worst wide receivers" in the team's mini camp."

According to Cohn, Jenkins didn't play with the first or second team on Tuesday during the practices, and he didn't catch a pass in Wednesday's scrimmages. Cohn even puts undrafted receivers Nathan Palmer and Brian Tyms ahead of Jenkins in performance, calling Jenkins the "biggest letdown" of the mini camp.

We already had Jenkins looking up at free-agent pickups Randy Moss and Mario Manningham on the depth chart. After Cohn called wide receiver Kyle Williams the biggest surprise of the minicamp, we should join him in now putting Jenkins fifth on the wide receiver depth chart. He might even be sixth if Ted Ginn is put in the mix.

Jenkins was supposed to "run the hill" with 49ers Hall of Famer Jerry Rice to work on his conditioning, but according to Bay Area Sports Guy, the rookie hasn't even had dinner with Rice.

He was supposed to add an element of speed in the slot to the offense, but at this point, he will be lucky to be active on game days. If he wasn't a first-round pick, he would have major pressure on him to improve in training camp and the preseason to even earn a roster spot.

Two common refrains heard in June are: "It's hard to learn much about players when they're not in pads" and "Everyone looks good in mini camp." Jenkins is breaking both of those rules of conventional wisdom. We've learned he's far away from making an impact on Sunday by doing anything but looking good in mini camp.