It hasn’t been what you’d call an easy year for either A.J. Jenkins or Joe Looney. The San Francisco 49ers came into this year as one of the deepest teams in the NFL, and that didn’t allow for many opportunities for either player to shine. Jenkins certainly had a better shot than Looney at getting onto the field and making something happen, since he was a first round selection (Looney was taken in the fourth round) and the starters on the 49ers’ offensive line barely left the field in 2012.
There’s still a slight chance Jenkins can make his presence felt today in Super Bowl XLVII, as he is the No. 4 receiver behind Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Ted Ginn. But it has been a tough first season for Jenkins, who was called a bust by some almost from the moment he was drafted. Many 49ers fans, and even so-called experts, wanted Coby Fleener instead. Or, anyone they had heard of. Jenkins looked lost at times during training camp, and then looked equal parts brilliant and shaky in preseason action.
I talked to Jenkins, who seemed to have a plan for Super Bowl Media Day: deflect questions about himself to the game coming up that will shape the lives and legacies of the men involved. I asked Jenkins about how his rookie season has gone, if Greg Roman’s offense was extraordinarily complicated, and whether veterans on the team have talked to him about not taking the Super Bowl experience for granted.
A few days after the surreality of Tuesday’s Media Day, I talked to Joe Looney. If you aren’t too familiar with him, he played left guard at Wake Forest and came to camp with a lisfranc injury which he recovered from during the offseason. He has been a healthy inactive all season, but down the road he may find himself in a fight with Daniel Kilgore for the chance to replace Jonathan Goodwin as the team’s next starting center. Interesting that when I asked him about the other linemen, the first guy he complimented was Goodwin.
While Jenkins understandably seemed a little bit wary when I spoke to him (it can’t be easy to be a first round WR who doesn’t catch one pass during his first season), Looney was downright friendly.
Looney: It’s been fun, man. I’ve been blessed to be on this team, and have the opportunity to be here with this wonderful group of guys.
BASG: What positions have you been playing? Were you mostly helping prepare for other teams, or were you working on one specific position?
Looney: I’ve been playing center and guard mostly in practice, and giving the defense a look at what they’ll see in the game on Sundays.
BASG: How much center did you play in college?
Looney: I didn’t play any in college. I snapped a lot in high school.
BASG: What do you learn from guys like Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati and the rest of the line?
Looney: Yeah, it’s great to have these guys in front of me. The things I learn from them, the technique, little things that they do. Because it’s technique that wins. Especially Goody. Goody’s real good with his leverage, his hands. He’s a real good person to watch. Staley’s athletic, quick, a technician. They’re all great guys to watch, and I’m fortunate to have those guys in front of me so I can learn from them.
BASG: How’s the Super Bowl week, all the media craziness?
Looney: It’s definitely the most cameras I’ve ever seen in my life, but it’s cool. I think our team is focused on what we’ve got to do. I think everybody knows we’re on a business trip and trying to win a football game.