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Monday, August 12, 2013
49ers keep coming back to A.J. Jenkins

By Mike Sando

Vernon Davis is the latest San Francisco 49ers player to name A.J. Jenkins as the wide receiver he expects to emerge opposite veteran Anquan Boldin.

"I really like A.J. Jenkins," Davis said Monday, according to Matt Maiocco. "He's got a lot of potential. He's still learning the game, he told me yesterday. He has all the potential to do it. It's just taking him a little time, but he will get there, and I think he will be prepared by the start of the season."

Davis caught 20 passes as a rookie in 2006, an underwhelming total for a player drafted sixth overall. Questions about his value as such a high draft choice persisted for years. But as Davis matured, his production improved. He became a Pro Bowl tight end.

Jenkins, chosen 31st overall in 2012, caught zero passes as a rookie. The team didn't really need him, however. The 49ers' rookies played sparingly or not at all because most were buried on the depth chart behind established players.

The answer Davis provided regarding Jenkins on Monday lined up with what 49ers players told me when I posed the same question to them during a visit to camp.

Strong safety Donte Whitner cited Jenkins' speed and ability to "take the top off" an opposing defense. Davis hit on that theme in Maiocco's report when he said, "He's smooth, he's fast and he wants to succeed. Those are the three main things that jump out to me. It's hard to find speed."

Jenkins' ability has shown during practice sessions. He lost a fumble in the exhibition opener Thursday, however, and every misstep in the absence of sustained production will hurt perceptions of him. It's still too early to make a full assessment.