This post all might be moot. I'm not going to make any conjectures about personnel decisions, because Jim Harbaugh basically thrives off of making people wrong. That said, there seems to be a somewhat likely chance that both LaMichael James and A. J. Jenkins could be suited up and playing against the Dolphins this week. Again, I'm probably just going to get Harbaugh'd, but whatever. We can all parse his statements about how Ted Ginn "has been" ahead of Jenkins on the depth chart to death; at the end of the day, Harbaugh gonna Harbs.
For a moment, let's pretend that both play though. Let's pretend Brandon Jacobs and Ginn just played themselves out of jobs (and let's be honest, if most of us were coaches, they totally just did against the Rams - then again, maybe that's why we aren't coaches). But, jump into fantasy land - a land in which both Jenkins and James suit up and get a decent amount of play time. What can we expect?
Well, first off, I expect both of them to probably struggle. I think they can both be good players at the NFL level, but both of them have that new project smell rather than that complete package spell that some players have the second they come out of college. For both players, the reasons are a bit different: I think Jenkins lacks the size to really impose his will at an NFL level (so far, obviously as he trains more and more that will change) and James will probably have to adjust his running style now that people around him won't just fall over with simple jukes. Also, in general, I'm not sure having a new QB throwing to two rookies is huge recipe for success, but I believe in Colin Kaepernick, so that might be me prudent-ing too hard.
I do, however, expect both to be able to contribute. With Jenkins, it's pretty obviously. The dude is super fast, and if he can get past a defender, Colin has the arm to get it to him. That could be devastating. The upside with him is pretty nice. James, however, is a bit harder to project. He is a natural fit to run the option with Kaepernick, though I'm getting tired of that play. Let Kaepernick be a grown up QB. Run the option sparingly. It will be more effective that way. I'm interested in how well James will play with the QB under center. Can he run up the gut? I'm inclined to think so, if only because he will be a different look than Frank Gore. That sort of thing can trip up defenses. And really, that's what we want James to be: a change of pace back who can take the ball outside or in the A-gap. We want versatility from James.
So, to conclude this article, I have a basic question: if you could choose one, and only one, who would it be? If only one player could suit up, which one of the two would you want to see? I think I would go with Jenkins. Our receiving corps just isn't as solid as our normal RB corps (with Hunter included, of course), and I want to see how Jenkins could potentially alter that for the next few years. This is a pretty solid coin toss decision for me, but I would probably have to go with Jenkins.
What about you guys and gals?