Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
No. 17 as the lone wolf—Jenkins was simply out of position outside of the practice field.
What do you call first-round wide receivers who don’t register a single catch during their opening year in the league?
Well, we certainly won’t go that far for the time being.
The 49ers tabbed A.J. Jenkins with their most coveted draft slot at No. 30 overall.
Jenkins earned that lofty regard with his notable speed, route-running prowess, sure handedness, high football IQ and overall gold-star character.
Amassing 1,276 yards, eight touchdowns and leading the Big Ten with 90 receptions during his senior year didn’t hurt either.
But those were the glory days of a far distant past for Mr. Jenkins.
The slim 6’0’’, 192-pound wideout essentially recorded zero playing time in 2012.
Not doing so because of a fully stacked and healthy wide receiver depth chart would be one thing.
Unfortunately, both Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham sustained season-ending injuries last year. An active role was ripe for the taking, but Jenkins couldn’t take advantage.
Now Jenkins finds himself in a similar yet entirely more precarious situation.
49ers’ leading receiver and Colin Kaepernick’s most trusted target, Michael Crabtree, is lost until late November with a torn right Achilles tendon, according to Mike Garafolo of USA Today.
Manningham could miss the start of the season due to a grueling recovery from his torn ACL and PCL in Week 16 (via Rotoworld). Williams, for his part, is coming off a torn ACL of his own, despite being medically cleared for training camp, according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area.
Let’s not also forget the addition of fourth-rounder Quinton Patton. The man has already been seriously chomping at the bit for playing time (h/t Pro Football Talk).
In simple terms, Jenkins must make an impact. He must be ready to take on the reigns as the No. 2 guy opposite newcomer Anquan Boldin if the need arises.
It’s imperative that he shakes off his endurance issues and difficulty mastering the playbook from that regrettable rookie campaign—especially if he’s to have any longevity with this team.
If not, the 49ers could be in for a rude awakening. And Jenkins’ NFL future could very well hang in the balance.
Numerous “ifs” and hypotheticals notwithstanding, these are serious implications for one A.J. Jenkins.
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