Thearon W. Henderson
In the wake of injuries to Kyle Williams and Kendall Hunter, don't get your hopes up too high that rookies AJ Jenkins and LaMichael James will see much playing time.
The 49ers had a few injuries coming out of the game against the Saints this week, most notably the knee of Kyle Williams and the ankle of Kendall Hunter. The former is reportedly a "serious" injury that the 49ers expect could end Williams' season as the words "ligament damage" were mentioned by a few media sources. Hunter's injury isn't believed to be serious, but could sideline him for a few weeks it's thought.
Many were quick to expect that we'd now get to see rookies AJ Jenkins and LaMichael James, neither of which had been on the field during the regular season, though Jenkins did suit-up for one game. While these two are part of the depth at each position and I would expect them to potentially be active for some games, I wouldn't expect to see them on the field for the offense much. The reason is that the 49ers have veteran depth at both RB and WR, including players who haven't played much themselves in 2012.
Of course I'm talking about Randy Moss and Brandon Jacobs. Moss has been active for every game this year but hasn't played many snaps. Between him, Mario Manningham, Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn, I would think there are plenty of reasons why the 49ers wouldn't rush a rookie in Jenkins into action.
The same would go for James, though he does have the added ability to return punts...something that Williams did in New Orleans after a muff by the aforementioned Ginn. Still, James hasn't proven to Jim Harbaugh that he's up to the task of being a punt returner full-time, and we all know what can happen when a guy is thrust into action and isn't quite ready...especially as a punt returner.
Jacobs meanwhile seems healthy and hungry to get on the field, added to the fact that he's a two-time Super Bowl champion and knows what it takes to make a late run leading up to the playoffs. The 49ers also have Anthony Dixon, though they haven't asked a third RB to take many snaps this season in a game, usually relying solely on the top two guys to carry the entire load.
Now I'm not saying that neither Jenkins or James will end up on the field at all, just don't expect to see them a ton. The 49ers have shown in the past that they'll just go with the next guy and often even be thin at a position rather than force someone into action prematurely.
The good news it that even after these injuries, the team has the luxury of STILL sitting it's rookies if it so chooses, a testament to the depth they built in the off-season.