Grading A.J. Jenkins for Jon Baldwin Trade for 49ers, Chiefs
The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs smartly provided a change of scenery for bust receivers A.J. Jenkins and Jonathan Baldwin when the teams agreed to swap the two on Monday.
According to Adam Teicher of The Kansas City Star, the 49ers will send Jenkins, the No. 30 overall pick in last year's draft, to the Chiefs for Baldwin, the No. 26 pick in the 2011 draft.
#Chiefs trade Jon Baldwin to 49ers for WR AJ Jenkins.— Adam Teicher (@adamteicher) August 19, 2013
Both receivers have been big disappointments since entering the NFL.
Jenkins, a 6'0", 192-pound receiver from Illinois, played in just three games his rookie season, catching zero passes on only one target. This preseason, he lost a fumble on his only reception while also failing to take any kind of step forward within the 49ers offense.
Baldwin has 41 catches for 579 yards and two scores over his two NFL seasons, but the Chiefs have seen little progress in the 6'4", 230-pound receiver since they rolled the dice on him at the back end of the first round in 2011. He has zero catches this preseason, thanks in part to his continued habit of dropping the football.
The two first-round busts will now try to revive their careers in a new setting and for new coaching staffs.
Below, we will grade the trade for both the 49ers and Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers
Ability has rarely been the problem for Baldwin, who is imposing physically but also tremendously athletic. At the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, the 230-pound Baldwin ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and had a vertical leap of 42 inches. He also had top receiver marks in the bench press (20 reps) and broad jump (129 inches).
Receivers with those measurables should, at the very least, produce starting-level numbers, but the game has rarely come easy for Baldwin at the NFL level. The mental aspect has also been a problem, especially in terms of catching the football and being consistent.
The 49ers have wanted to get better as a vertical passing team, especially after losing Michael Crabtree to injury earlier this offseason. Baldwin fits that need, as his length and jumping ability are both huge assets down the field. Last season, he averaged over 16 yards per catch.
The 49ers swapped the three years and roughly $2.4 million left on Jenkins' rookie deal for the two years and roughly $2.5 million remaining for Baldwin.
Despite losing a year of contract stability, the 49ers weren't likely to be deterred by the money of this deal. Both players are making low-level salaries, even if Baldwin will bring in slightly more than Jenkins this and next season.
Any time a team is giving up on a first-round pick, there's risk of some kind. If Jenkins lands in Kansas City and becomes a contributor and Baldwin arrives in San Francisco and is a headache, the 49ers will have pulled this trigger too soon.
Draft status aside, the only tangible risk in this deal stems from Baldwin's inconsistency on the field and immaturity off it. The 49ers have a strong locker room with respected leaders, which should help mitigate any problem Baldwin could potentially create. The risk remains low.
Caution should be used when discussing this trade, because it still features two busts who have done very little at the professional level. However, it's also difficult not to like the deal for the 49ers, who have a track record of helping turn around seemingly lost careers.
San Francisco also needed help in terms of a vertical threat, which is something Baldwin can help provide if his head is on straight. If Jim Harbaugh can get through to him, Baldwin could be a steal for the 49ers.
Traded away A.J. Jenkins
Kansas City Chiefs
Addressing Jenkins' ability level is difficult to do, for no other reason than he's hardly played since the 49ers took him in last year's first round. That fact alone is telling, but Jenkins simply doesn't have the sample size needed to make a fair assessment.
He did run a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the 2012 NFL combine. However, he's not a big receiver at 6'0" and 192 pounds, and NFL cornerbacks have occasionally beaten him up in exhibition contests.
Jenkins would appear to be a better fit than Baldwin for what Andy Reid likes to do throwing the football. Small, fast and shifty, Jenkins could be an asset for Reid on short to intermediate routes, and possibly even in the slot.
There's also a touch of familiarity with new quarterback Alex Smith, although he and Jenkins didn't hook up for a single completion or target last season.
The Chiefs got the better end of the contract side, as Jenkins still has three years remaining on his rookie deal and will make less than Baldwin in each of the next two seasons. But once again, the dollars of this deal were not a driving force for either team.
In terms of the salary cap in 2013, the effect of the swap for both Kansas City and San Francisco will be minimal.
As was the case for the 49ers, the risk in Kansas City dealing away Baldwin lies with the possibility of him landing in San Francisco and making a real difference. However, the Chiefs gave him ample time to make an impression.
It's also worth noting that Baldwin was a draft pick of the previous regime. The risk here remains low, even if Jenkins doesn't turn things around in a new setting. In a worst-case scenario, the Chiefs can cut Jenkins if he shows nothing over the next two or three weeks.
In terms of talent and potential, the Chiefs appear to be giving more than they are receiving in this deal. At the very least, Baldwin has at least proved he can contribute something to an offense.
However, can any one really fault either team for agreeing to the swap? Both receivers needed a new home, and Jenkins is arguably a better fit for the Chiefs offense than Baldwin. Reid will have to make quick work of his new reclamation project.
Traded away Jon Baldwin
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