49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media on Monday, and I overlooked a particularly key part of his comments. Thanks to JH but not the Coach for pointing something out in a Matt Barrows article that came from the transcript. Barrows' article extrapolated out the comments a little bit, but I think there is still something to what he said:
Jim, you talked in July about how WR A.J. Jenkins is going to be outstanding. Yet there's been an injury and he doesn't get on the field and then WR Mario Manningham got injured yesterday and A.J. still doesn't get on the field. Why hasn't he been playing?
"Well, we talked about [WR] Michael [Crabtree], [WR] Randy [Moss], [WR] Mario [Manningham] have all been playing at a very high level and we're working toward it. He was active, dressed for the game and is being integrated into the plan."
But right now, WR Ted Ginn Jr. was in on the three wide receiver sets, which obviously means Ted Ginn's ahead of him on the depth chart too?
"He has been, yes."
Do you see that changing?
"Anything's possible there, but that's the way it has been."
Barrows pointed to that middle comment and said "Harbaugh said it was difficult because there were three receivers - Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Mario Manningham - who were ahead of Jenkins on the depth chart."
Harbaugh didn't quite say that, but one can make some inferences about his second comment about how Ginn "has been" ahead of Jenkins on the depth chart. Against the Rams, Ginn had 14 snaps on offense, and we saw how well that worked out. He had one catch for one yard, and was part of the botched pistol triple option play.
There were a lot of people screwing up on the option play, but Ginn has not done much to justify his roster spot. He continues to struggle as a wide receiver, and his return work has been average at best, and below average too frequently. I was a huge fan of his work last season in the return game, and he was a pivotal part of the 49ers dominant field position. We are simply not seeing the same production this year.
Now that Kyle Williams is done for the year, and Mario Manningham is banged up with a shoulder injury, the opportunity might finally be at hand for A.J. Jenkins to get out on the field. He should be active as usual, but we likely won't know his role, if any, until game time. Much will depend on Manningham's availability, so we'll have to keep an eye on that. But even if Manningham can play, there are snaps to be had for Jenkins. Fingers crossed he gets that opportunity.