Chat wrap: Expectations for A.J. Jenkins

June, 28, 2012
6/28/12
4:20
PM ET
We went about 90 minutes on the NFC West chat Thursday because there really wasn't anything better to do on this fourth Thursday in June.

Please do partake in the transcript.

Tristan from San Francisco is claiming to have set an NFC West chat record with six questions or comments making it through our comprehensive screening process. Please don't tell him there were fewer questions than during a typical week, this being late June.

We did have some questions left over. Let's address one of them here.


EDTGO seeks counsel regarding minicamp reports on San Francisco 49ers receiver A.J. Jenkins.

"When drafted it was known he has speed, separation and hands," EDTGO writes. "But he is severely undersized both in height and frame. In a division with the physical Seattle corners and a talented corner such as Patrick Peters, not to mention the Rams' upgrades in that area, do you see him making any impact in his rookie year? What do you think he has to improve on (other then size) to compete?"

Mike Sando: First off, let's all relax about minicamp reports. We need to see Jenkins put on the pads and compete. He'll face plenty of competition from the 49ers' physical defensive backs.

Let's go back to what coach Jim Harbaugh said about Jenkins on draft day.

"I defy anybody to look at that tape and tell me that there's something wrong with it, that there's something that he doesn't do well," Harbaugh said.

Wide receiver was one position where the 49ers did not seem to have the right answers last season. They could have drafted Doug Baldwin, a player Harbaugh knew well, but took Ronald Johnson. The signing of Braylon Edwards also did not work out well (mostly because of injuries, I would say). So, it's possible the 49ers don't evaluate that position as well as they evaluate other positions. I'm just not ready to make that determination so early in the process.

General manager Trent Baalke had this to say about Jenkins on draft day: "Not only do we feel he has the skill sets we're looking for, explosive playmaking ability, but like we've always talked, he's our kind of guy. He's a football guy. He loves the game. He's very passionate. He lives for the games. He lives in the building. It was an easy decision when it came time to make the pick."

The 49ers think Jenkins comes to them with relatively developed route-running skills. They think he has the versatility to play all three primary receiver spots (flanker, split end, slot). They think he needs time in an NFL conditioning program to develop the strength needed to become a more physical player. The knock on Jenkins is that he's too lean and lacks strength.

Sometimes teams overvalue speed. The 49ers could have been at risk for this because they so badly sought a speed element for their receiving corps. They might have been willing to overlook deficiencies so they could add a player with 4.31-second timed speed in the 40-yard dash. I'm not saying the 49ers did this, just that they could have been vulnerable to accepting such a tradeoff.

The 49ers, having added to the position in free agency, do not have a great need for Jenkins to produce this season. I think Jenkins will ease into the offense. I'd be a little surprised if he caught more than 30 or so passes as a rookie. He was the 30th overall choice, so expectations should be muted a little anyway.

NFL teams drafted five wideouts between the 20th and 39th picks over the past two drafts. Four of them caught between 21 and 25 passes as rookies (Demaryius Thomas, Jonathan Baldwin, Dexter McCluster, Arrelious Benn). One, Dez Bryant, had 45 receptions. McCluster is more of a running back; I'd put him in a different category. But the averages can still guide our expectations.

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