A.J. Jenkins

Reload or rebuild: A look at the 49ers’ roster since Super Bowl XLVII

The Chiefs released A.J. Jenkins last week. That’s not much of a surprise, since Jenkins caught just 17 passes for 223 yards in Kansas City. Andy Reid recently said Jenkins “is just learning,” which also makes sense … yes, even after two years with the Chiefs and three years as a professional.

A.J. JenkinsHere’s what Jenkins said in June of 2013 when I asked how long it took to grasp the 49ers’ playbook:

“It took me a while, because I wasn’t used to so many plays. They install, like, every single day. The constant install. If you don’t know what’s going on the previous day, there’s (plays to) install the very next day. So you’re kind of behind because you don’t really know what’s going on. Your mind kind of wanders off a little bit.”

But this isn’t about beating a dead first-rounder’s study habits. The Jenkins story got me thinking about the Super Bowl two years ago, when Jenkins was on the active roster. With players departing every season (as is prone to happen with any NFL team), and several starters set to hit the open market in March, I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at the squad that came so close to winning the franchise’s sixth Lombardi and see where they are now. I very well could be wrong, but we’ve already gotten this far, so …

I posted the team’s Super Bowl XLVII depth chart below. After each player’s name I noted whether they’re under contract for next season.

Offense

WR — 15 Michael Crabtree (NO); 17 A.J. Jenkins (NO)

LT — 74 Joe Staley (YES)

LG — 77 Mike Iupati (NO); 66 Joe Looney (YES)

C — 59 Jonathan Goodwin (NO); 67 Daniel Kilgore (YES)

RG — 75 Alex Boone (YES); 68 Leonard Davis (NO)

RT — 76 Anthony Davis (YES)

TE — 85 Vernon Davis (YES); 46 Delanie Walker (NO); 81 Garrett Celek (NO)

WR — 84 Randy Moss (NO); 19 Ted Ginn Jr. (NO); 14 Chad Hall (NO)

FB — 49 Bruce Miller (YES); 24 Anthony Dixon (NO); 48 Will Tukuafu (NO)

RB — 21 Frank Gore (NO); 23 LaMichael James (NO); 33 Jewel Hampton (NO)

QB — 7 Colin Kaepernick (YES); 11 Alex Smith (NO); 3 Scott Tolzien (NO)

Defense

NT — 90 Isaac Sopoaga (NO); 93 Ian Williams (YES)

LDT — 91 Ray McDonald (NO); 95 Ricky Jean-Francois (NO)

RDT — 94 Justin Smith (YES); 63 Tony Jerod-Eddie (NO)

OLB — 55 Ahmad Brooks (YES); 50 Cam Johnson (NO)

ILB — 53 NaVorro Bowman (YES); 54 Larry Grant (NO); 57 Michael Wilhoite (NO)

ILB — 52 Patrick Willis (YES); 56 Tavares Gooden (NO)

OLB — 99 Aldon Smith (YES); 51 Clark Haggans (NO)

LCB — 22 Carlos Rogers (NO); 20 Perrish Cox (NO); 26 Tramaine Brock (YES)

RCB — 25 Tarell Brown (NO); 29 Chris Culliver (NO)

FS — 38 Dashon Goldson (NO); 27 C.J. Spillman (NO)

SS — 31 Donte Whitner (NO); 30 Trenton Robinson (NO); 28 Darcel McBath (NO)

Special teams

K — 2 David Akers (NO)

P — 4 Andy Lee (YES)

LS — 86 Brian Jennings (NO)

*** Under contract for 2015 (16) ***

  • Colin Kaepernick
  • Joe Staley
  • Joe Looney
  • Daniel Kilgore
  • Alex Boone
  • Anthony Davis
  • Vernon Davis
  • Bruce Miller
  • Justin Smith
  • Ian Williams
  • Ahmad Brooks
  • Aldon Smith
  • NaVorro Bowman
  • Patrick Willis
  • Tramaine Brock
  • Andy Lee

At least one of these players (Ahmad Brooks) will probably be released before the 2015 season. Justin Smith is contemplating retirement.

*** Restricted (1) or Exclusive Rights Free Agents (2) ***

  • Garrett Celek (RFA)
  • Tony Jerod-Eddie (ERFA)
  • Michael Wilhoite (ERFA)

The 49ers will probably retain both ERFAs. After an injury-plagued 2014, the 49ers may not have much competition for Celek (if they still want him).

*** Unrestricted Free Agents (6) ***

  • Frank Gore
  • Michael Crabtree
  • Mike Iupati
  • Chris Culliver
  • Perrish Cox
  • Ray McDonald

The 49ers are saying all the right things about keeping Gore, but money talks; Crabtree is almost certainly gone unless he comes back on a one-year deal to boost his plunging stock; Iupati is a top-25 FA in the NFL and will probably be too expensive; PFT posted a story today on how, based on chatter at the Combine, “There could be a very significant market for 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver.”

*** Played for other teams in 2014 (17) ***

  • Alex Smith (Chiefs)
  • A.J. Jenkins (Chiefs)
  • Jonathan Goodwin (Saints)
  • Delanie Walker (Titans)
  • Ted Ginn, Jr. (Cardinals)
  • Anthony Dixon (Bills)
  • Will Tukuafu (Seahawks)
  • LaMichael James (Dolphins)
  • Scott Tolzien (Packers)
  • Ricky Jean-Francois (Colts)
  • Cam Johnson (Colts)
  • Carlos Rogers (Raiders)
  • Tarell Brown (Raiders)
  • Dashon Goldson (Buccaneers)
  • C.J. Spillman (Cowboys)
  • Donte Whitner (Browns)
  • Trenton Robinson (Washington)

Among potential (long shot) candidates to return to the 49ers: Goodwin’s career might be over, but the 49ers missed his locker room presence in 2014; RJF could be a cap casualty in Indy — would the 49ers be interested in reuniting him with his old defensive line coach?

*** Last played in 2013 (7) ***

  • David Akers (Lions)
  • Chad Hall (Chiefs)
  • Jewel Hampton (49ers)
  • Isaac Sopoaga (Eagles/Pats)
  • Larry Grant (Bears)
  • Tavares Gooden (Texans)
  • Darcel McBath (49ers)

Sopoaga is the perfect example of a guy who got overpaid thanks to his time with a winner, but WOW, what a throwing arm.

*** Last played in 2012 (4) ***

  • Randy Moss
  • Brian Jennings
  • Leonard Davis
  • Clark Haggans

Interesting group includes the largest human being I’ve ever seen in person (Davis), and two people who probably couldn’t be more unlike each other while playing the same sport (Moss and Jennings). 

  • Still under contract: 30%
  • Current 49ers free agents: 17%
  • Still in the league with other teams (more or less): 32%
  • Out of the NFL: 21%

BREAKING NEWS: The NFL is a brutal game with incredible year-to-year turnover and it’s very difficult to keep the core of a team together.

Only about one-third of the 2012 team will still be on the roster in 2015. However, that might actually be higher than what one would normally see three years later. Plus, 11 starters from that team are currently under contract, and at least one or two could be retained. Maybe that’s why people still think the Super Bowl window is, if not wide open, at least more than slightly ajar. Obviously I don’t agree, but after taking a then-and-now look at the roster, I’m starting to see why some 49ers fans (and the 49ers themselves) believe they can play in the first Super Bowl at Levi’s Stadium.

Oh, and just for fun … let’s try out the same exercise from earlier on the 2012 coaching staff!

Head Coach – Jim Harbaugh (NO)

Offensive coaches

Offensive Coordinator – Greg Roman (NO)
Quarterbacks – Geep Chryst (YES)
Running Backs – Tom Rathman (YES)
Wide Receivers – John Morton (NO)
Tight Ends – Reggie Davis (NO)
Offensive Line – Tim Drevno (NO)
Offensive Line – Mike Solari (NO)
Offensive Assistant – Michael Christianson (NO)
Offensive Assistant – Ejiro Evero (NO)
Offensive Assistant – Paul Wulff (NO)

Defensive coaches

Defensive Coordinator – Vic Fangio (NO)
Defensive Line – Jim Tomsula (YES)
Linebackers – Jim Leavitt (NO)
Secondary – Ed Donatell (NO)
Assistant Secondary – Greg Jackson (NO)
Defensive Assistant/Quality Control – Peter Hansen (NO)

Special teams coaches

Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator – Brad Seely (NO)
Special Teams Assistant – Tracy Smith (NO)

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