I have been critical of Jim Harbaugh’s use of A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James all year. He eventually had his hand forced in the LaMichael James situation due to injury and Brandon Jacobs plain old sucking, but no such luck for his first rounder A.J. Jenkins. The standout from Illinois has been inactive for all but 3 games this season, and I can’t help but wonder why. He got a little more playing time in San Francisco’s divisional matchup, but that really isn’t saying much. At best I think I noticed him twice, and even though he didn’t really do anything or factor into the game plan, just seeing him on the field was nice.
In his record-shattering performance Colin Kaepernick targeted 8 receivers and connected with 7 of them at least once. The 49ers’ first round pick, was not one of them. Not quite sure what he’s done to work himself into Harbaugh’s dog house, but it almost defies conventional wisdom and logic at this point to not get him involved in the offense. If they can find a way to get Ted Ginn Jr. a reception why not Jenkins? Jenkins has all the tools to be a good receiver in the NFL. He’s extremely fast (ran a 4.41 40), has great hands, and best of all has the ability to make plays once he gets the ball. This elusiveness would lend itself very well to receiver screens and playing time in the slot, yet, he has no such luck landing playing time.
Keeping Jenkins off the field would almost be justifiable if the 49ers were healthy at wide receiver or Randy Moss was an actual factor in this offense. As of right now, though, neither is the case. Mario Manningham, and Kyle Williams have both been placed on season ending IR which leaves the Niners with only three receivers currently factoring into their offense. Only one whom actually get’s anything done on a consistent basis. If you guessed that that receiver is Michael Crabtree, well done. Ted Ginn Jr. has just added to his status as one of the great busts of drafts past and Randy Moss never shows up for more than one play a game.
With this week’s matchup being nothing more than a warm up for the Super Bowl, why not try and get Jenkins some playing time? The 49ers are the better team in almost every aspect of the game, and although taking the Falcons lightly might be a bad idea, taking Jenkins’ ability lightly could prove just as costly. Shutting down one receiver offenses can be very easy, and the Falcons have a wicked secondary that just might hone in on Crabtree a little excessively. What better time to try out Jenkins?
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