Grant Cohn, who gave the San Francisco 49ers an “F” for their selection of wide receiver A.J. Jenkins with the 30th pick in the first round, had this to say on Saturday about Jenkins’ play during the 49ers’ recently concluded minicamp:
- A.J. Jenkins: The Niners first round pick looked like one of the worst wide receivers on the field most of minicamp. He didn’t play with the first- or second-team offense on Tuesday, and he didn’t catch a pass in scrimmages on Wednesday. He had trouble staying on his feet all three days, which was odd considering it was a non-contact minicamp. Overall, undrafted receivers Nathan Palmer and Brian Tyms caught many more passes and made more impressive plays than Jenkins did. There’s no rush for Jenkins to produce, though, because there seem to be at least four good wide receivers above him on the depth chart right now – Crabtree, Moss, Manningham and Williams.
Later that day, Pro Football Talk took that passage from Cohn’s minicamp wrapup and turned into a caveat-laden post titled, “49ers first-rounder Jenkins still struggling.” Somewhere along the way, all this activity got Jenkins’ attention.
Jenkins made a pretty nifty catch in the corner of the end zone on Thursday on a pass from Colin Kaepernick (I posted photos of the play here), but Cohn wasn’t the only one with concerns about Jenkins’ skills and/or production during minicamp. SFGate’s Eric Branch wrote this on June 6:
* Rookie wide receiver A.J. Jenkins continues to display first-year inconsistency.
During the handful of open practices the past month, I’ve seen an on-target pass clang off his facemask (not a good look) and I’ve also witnessed several high-degree-of-difficulty grabs.
On Tuesday, it was more of the same.
The good: At one point, he reached behind his body at full-sprint and snatched a wayward pass – a reception that required some serious strength in his “E.T.” fingers.
The bad: While running across the middle he hesitated and then stopped his route, apparently trying to settle into an area between defenders. Josh Johnson, who expected him to keep running, huddled with the rookie after the pass fell incomplete.
The Jenkins pick will be scrutinized throughout his career (or at least until he goes over 1,000 receiving yards in a season). That’s the life of a first round pick, especially one who were expected to fall to the second or third round by most analysts. However, I wonder if Jenkins would’ve kept quiet on the matter if not for two things:
1. Cohn’s post got picked up by PFT, a very popular football blog under the NBC Sports umbrella.
2. Recent events surrounding the Press Democrat blogger, specifically the spat between Cohn and right tackle Anthony Davis.
Jenkins’ minicamp struggles are probably overblown, since the learning curve for rookie receivers is steep and plenty who have looked great during practices in June have turned out to be busts. Jenkins could also look much better during training camp in August, or show significant improvement as the 2012 regular season progresses. That’s why, although football writers are entitled to make judgments after watching a minicamp, we can’t accurately judge Trent Baalke’s 2012 first round pick for quite some time.
What’s noteworthy about this (at least to someone like me who runs a blog)? While players might not respect the opinion of “bloggers” (especially ones who criticize their performance on a newspaper’s website), they’re definitely reading and taking notes.