A.J. Jenkins

49ers release Joe Looney, officially get nothing from 2012 Draft class

A.J. Jenkins 49ers 8.13.13 training camp

I wrote the following two years ago about the draft class I graded as an “F” on my Trent Baalke report card from Jan. 2, 2015:

  • First Round: WR A.J. Jenkins (traded to Chiefs for the yet-to-be-activated Jon Baldwin)
  • Second Round: RB LaMichael James (not needed unless Frank Gore or Kendall Hunter get hurt)
  • Fourth Round: G Joe Looney (yet to be activated for a game)
  • Fifth Round: LB Darius Fleming (tore the same ACL in May 2012 and July 2013, on IR)
  • Sixth Round: S Trenton Robinson (waived, now on Eagles practice squad)
  • Sixth Round: OL Jason Slowey (waived in 2012 by 49ers, waived in 2013 by Raiders)
  • Seventh Round: LB Cam Johnson (traded to Colts for conditional seventh-rounder)

That’s horrendous. The only players out of that group who are even on the team anymore are Looney, Fleming and James, who needs a social media advisor.

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Fleming was cut in May of 2014, and hooked on with the Patriots. James was granted his release last year (he rushed 19 times for 95 yards in the preseason for the Dolphins), and today the 49ers released Looney.

Looney’s loss

Joe Looney 49ersOne can look at this in one of two ways when it comes to Looney, who had chances to succeed last year and didn’t impress.

1. It’s awful for him, because he had spent three-plus years with the team and couldn’t make the squad, even though he’s an interior lineman (center/guard) on a team with massive problems in that area.

2. It could be a good sign for someone like Dillon Farrell or Trent Brown.

Lingering effects

As far as the 2012 draft class is concerned, wow. That’s even worse than I imagined it would look back in 2013. If you could point to one reason why the 49ers went 8-8 in 2014, and the oddsmakers have them at an over/under of 6.5 regular season wins in 2015, point to this draft. This draft should’ve produced players who were ready to contribute by 2013 (nope), really hitting their stride by 2014 (not even close), and hitting their primes in 2015 (where are they?).

This draft class even affected Super Bowl 47. Looney, Robinson and Johnson were inactive. Jenkins got on the field for three plays, but was unable to contribute despite the team’s lack of depth at receiver. James had the key play of the first half, coughing up the ball after getting back to the line of scrimmage on a broken run play. The 49ers were down 7-3 early in the second quarter, but found some rhythm throughout the drive that took them close to the red zone. That rhythm was halted with James’ fumble, and the 49ers fell behind by 11 after the Ravens recovered the football and marched 71 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown.

Spilled milk

In a way, this brings some closure. Everyone knew the 2012 draft class was a disaster, and now the last remaining vestige is gone.

The only thing Baalke can do now is hope the next few classes do better. The good news is there are a lot more players to choose from in each class, so maybe someone besides Eric Reid hits their stride from the 2013 class (like Tank Carradine, Vance McDonald, Corey Lemonier, Quinton Patton, Quinton Dial or Nick Moody) and more than a few members of the 2014 class (Jimmie Ward, Carlos Hyde, Marcus Martin, Brandon Thomas, Bruce Ellington, Dontae Johnson, Aaron Lynch, Keith Reaser, Kenneth Acker) are ready to contribute in 2015.

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