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WR A.J. Jenkins returns to San Francisco as a starter

10/2/2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Quarterback Alex Smith isn’t the only Kansas City Chiefs player with a homecoming of sorts on Sunday when his team plays against the 49ers in San Francisco. Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2012, will make the second start of his NFL career in place of the injured Donnie Avery.

"I can’t get too caught up in that kind of stuff, because I’ve got to be focused on what I’ve got to do," Jenkins said. "I’ll be ready for Sunday, but I’ll even be more ready if I’m not concerned about what’s going on out there this weekend or who we’re playing against. I’m not worried about San Francisco. I’m trying to get my playbook right.

"But it is crazy how things work out. My first start will be against the team that traded me. Things happen for a reason. Unfortunately my best friend and one of my teammates went down, but I have to step in and be accountable."

Jenkins started one game last season for the Chiefs, but that carries an asterisk. He started in San Diego against the Chargers in the final week of the regular season when the Chiefs rested many of their starters in preparation for the next week’s playoff game.

Like Avery, Jenkins is fast. His signature play since joining the Chiefs last season was the short pass he took for 27 yards late in the fourth quarter of the playoff game in Indianapolis.

But he hasn’t played a lot. Jenkins has four catches this season.

"The thing with Donnie is that he has that game experience, and you saw this past weekend he had some nice explosive gains and caught the ball well," offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. "Really, he and A.J. are similar in style. They’re both speed guys, and we’re going to utilize them in situations where we can maximize their speed on the football field."

Jenkins’ time in San Francisco was unusual. Though he was a first-round pick and stayed healthy, he didn’t get into uniform for a regular-season game until December of his rookie season. He didn’t catch a pass that year.

He was traded to the Chiefs during the preseason last year in return for wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, an underachieving former first-round pick of the Chiefs.

So Jenkins never caught a pass for the 49ers.