A.J. Jenkins followed up a forgettable rookie season with a forgettable preseason debut as the San Francisco 49ers opened up their exhibition slate with a 10-6 loss to the Denver Broncos. Jenkins caught one pass for 11 yards but fumbled the ball away as he tried to make a move up field.
Even more troubling than the turnover itself may have been the fact that Jenkins made little impact in the game despite getting a significant amount of playing time. Jenkins was on the field for 39 of the 49ers’ 61 offense snaps and was only targeted three times. Two of those targets resulted in turnovers as, in addition to the fumble, Colt McCoy was intercepted on one of the attempts that went Jenkins way. Jenkins, himself, tried to take a positive outlook on the sub par outing.
“Hopefully, I’ve made some strides,” said Jenkins. “It’s the first preseason game. We have three more games left. It’s a long year. No need to panic and get all discouraged. Just got to keep watching film.”
Even with three games remaining in the preseason, Jenkins needs to step up and do so soon. The 49ers have some intriguing options at wide receiver and Jenkins can get buried fairly quickly. He has already seen less reps at practice than he had previously which is a bad sign moving forward, especially as experienced vets like Austin Collie get more comfortable in the 49ers’ system.
Whispers are starting to circle that there is a possibility Jenkins may not even make the roster if his play doesn’t improve. For that to happen though, the 49ers would have to determine that he is a lost cause and can’t be salvaged. That’s a bold decision to make on a wide receiver who is only entering his second season. Receiver is a position that can take time to get used to in the NFL. The league is littered with high draft picks at receiver who took multiple seasons before the light went on. It’s easy to forget Michael Crabtree struggled with injuries and inconsistent production before breaking out last season. 2012 was Crabtree’s fourth year in the league. In reality, it’s far too early to cut the chord on Jenkins.
One supporter of that theory is tight end Vernon Davis. He sees the potential in Jenkins and understands that there is still time for the second year wide out.
“I really like A.J. Jenkins,” Davis said. “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.
It should also be noted that Jenkins had been battling a hamstring injury for part of camp. There is always the possibility that he’s still working his way back from that and may start to perform better as he gets healthy. Either way, the next three preseason games will go a long way in telling where Jenkins is as a player and what, if anything, he will bring to the 2013 49ers.
Photo Credit: Justin Edmunds/Getty Images
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