Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE
San Francisco's first-round pick (30th overall) has taken a slow and steady approach to his NFL career. As a high draft pick, Jenkins has been afforded the luxury of not having to perform right away. The most recent reports surrounding the rookie are that he might not be an active game day player come Week 1.
And while he's received a lot of negative media attention in regard to where he should be at, the scrutiny is standard and often overblown. And however unfair, it is routine for first-rounders—particularly skill players—to receive a lot of early criticism.
Jenkins' career has barely begun but he has the physical tools and potential to make it a great one.
The coaches have all said positive things about their first-round pick, and rest assured that Jenkins is up to speed and exactly where he should be. However, they do acknowledge that he is a work-in-progress and good things take time.
49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman recently spoke to the media in a presser from Santa Clara. On the topic of A.J. Jenkins, Roman had this to say:
There's a lot swirling through his mind right now. He's trying to do everything perfectly. In that process, there's going to be a drop here, a drop there. I've seen it with a lot of players over the years where they just work through that and they start relaxing and playing as opposed to thinking and playing. A.J.'s doing a really good job all around. Would we like to see him catch every football? There's no question. I think we'll see more of that as we go.
I think there's a process guys go through where there's just so much coming at them, mentally, physically, emotionally, the change of scenery, the change of the level of competition. You're trying to learn everything and when you think you got that, here comes another boatload of information, new plays, new formations, new rules. Now the soreness sets in and here comes some more plays, more formations, more this, more that. You just have to grind through it and have mental toughness. Lock your jaw and just continue to push through it. Then you start to play faster. Instead of catching four out of six, now it's five out of six. You keep grinding and it's just that process.
While there has been inconsistency with Jenkins, he has composed quite the highlight reel at training camp. He has become notorious for making tough, body-bending catches that display a high level of concentration.
Whether or not he is a first-rounder, Jenkins is in the same situation as all rookies: he's still learning. Once he's caught up mentally and he can just go out there and play, Jenkins may be a dominant player. He has the speed, big-play ability and high ceiling to be a factor in the 49ers passing game going forward.
A.J. Jenkins is a great pickup and someone to look forward to in the not-too-distant future.