SANTA CLARA, CA - MAY 11: A.J. Jenkins #17 of the San Francisco 49ers runs a pass rout during Rookie Minincamp at the San Francisco 49ers practice facility on May 11, 2012 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
We examine the situation that 49ers rookie wide receiver A.J. Jenkins is currently in and whether or not he can put together a strong performance in year one. With a strong surrounding cast and proper environment, Jenkins could explode onto the scene in 2012. For more on the San Francisco 49ers, head over to Niners Nation
The 2012 NFL Draft ensued and the 49ers selected a wide receiver just like most of the nation assumed. Usually when a team selects a wide receiver in the first round, they expect him to contribute right away, but the situation is a little different in San Francisco.
Right now the rookie wide out is in a situation where he has a strong supporting cast, in which he has taken advantage already by learning from polished veterans. His ears are perhaps a bigger weapon than his hands right now; he is absorbing all the nuances - big and small - of being a professional.
Jenkins is a first round talent that will likely be used situationally, and like Aldon Smith, be put in position to have success early and build confidence.
Jenkins has all of the physical tools to get it done, and his approach thus far has revealed that he has the proper mindset to complement it. His collective attributes led to a high level of success on the field in college, and it's a formula that's worked in the NFL. He is fast and athletic, humble and focused, and seems to have the will to try to be great.
The 49ers offense is built of individuals who are used to carrying the offense, and have all at one point or another been the centerpiece to an offensive attack. 49ers players like Randy Moss, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, LaMichael James and A.J. Jenkins all contributing together will make for a very potent offensive attack. Individually, these players have done great things in the past and together they will do great things in the future.
Moss: This wide receiver was a part of the top-two scoring offenses in NFL History (1998 Minnesota Vikings and 2007 New England Patriots). Moss is a sure-fire Hall of Famer that's proved to be unstoppable when he wants to be. There was never a team that Moss played for where defenses didn't make him priority number one; even when he played with Cris Carter.
Davis: He is a trendsetter as far as hybrid tight ends go. Davis set the record for most touchdowns by a tight end (13) in 2009 with a shaky offense that didn't quite have a handle on things. From a physical standpoint, he is the combination of a linebacker and a wide receiver with the capacity to take a game over from the tight end position.
Gore: San Francisco's tailback is a multi-selection Pro Bowler and the all-time leading rusher for the 49ers. In 7 NFL seasons, Gore has broken 1,000-yards on the ground five times - the only seasons in which he didn't, Gore played incomplete seasons where his carries were limited. Since his inception into the league, Gore has been one of the league's best running backs.
James: In his final year at Oregon, James became the school's all-time leading rusher in a season where he ran for a school-record 1,805 yards. In his time as a collegiate, James posted 5,082 career rushing yards which made him 2nd in PAC-12 history and 14th in NCAA history. James was consistently one of the leaders in rushing for most of his college career.
Jenkins: The Illinois wide receiver's senior numbers (1,166 yards) were good enough for 2nd in the Big Ten and 11th best in the NCAA Division I FBS players. Jenkins was the focal point of the Fighting Illini offense, but still produced despite the attention he was getting from defenses.
The bottom line is Jenkins will not be the sole focus for opposing defenses and by a long shot. And with names like Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and Carlos Rogers, last year's first rounder wasn't the sole focus on defense. Jim Harbaugh and company will likely try to implement the same surrounding for Jenkins on offense in year-one.
The rookie wide receiver will get some real opportunistic reps on game day in 2012, even though he is a newbie at a loaded position group. This team distributes the ball well on offense, creatively allowing a number of playmakers to get their hands on the ball. Jenkins' time will come, and when it does, the youngster will take full advantage.
The 49ers coaching staff strategizes accordingly, to put their players in the best case scenario to succeed -- it's all a part of their collective team effort.