Newly minted 49ers wide receiver A.J. Jenkins will meet with the media at 1:30pm PT today as the team introduces their latest first round draft choice. Jenkins spoke with the media on a conference call last night, and as the transcript after the jump indicates, he was incredibly excited about being selected, but also a bit surprised by the way events transpired last night.
One of the more interesting comments was his mention of being quizzed by Coach Harbaugh on some things related to the NFL. Coach Harbaugh also spoke about the quiz in fairly general terms. He said the quiz includes questions about rules, coverages, technical stuff, and also some football trivia. Coach Harbaugh described it as "kind of a ‘gym rat' type of test to see if a guy follows sports and knows the game."
I recall hearing something about this last year, but I don't remember the specifics. This may not tell us whether Jenkins will be a good player, but it would seem to help Coach Harbaugh to a certain extent as far as whether Jenkins is dedicated to his craft. It's just one more little quirk of the 49ers head coach.
WR A.J. Jenkins
Conference Call - April 26, 2012
San Francisco 49ers
This couldn't have come as a big surprise to you because the 49ers spent a lot of time with you, but did you think you would go in the first round?
"Wow. Honestly I didn't know where I was going to end up. It was a blessing. It was a great organization, but I had no idea where I was going to land. I'm honored and I'm blessed for the opportunity that that family gave me and I'm just happy right now. I'm speechless right now."
Tell us about the visit you had out here.
"It was great. I thought meeting with the San Francisco 49ers, we had fit good together. We had vibed together. We talked about football. We had a good time. Me and [Wide Receivers] Coach [John] Morton, we had a great relationship. We talked about life and football, me and [Head] Coach [Jim] Harbaugh did. I thought it was a perfect fit to be honest. I didn't know the phone call was going to come so soon. I'm just so honored and blessed to be in this position. Wow, crazy."
Where were you watching and with whom and what was the reaction like when you got the news?
"Honestly, I was watching with my mom, my two sisters, my brother, and my cousin and we were just watching the draft just joking around laughing. I was in the bathroom and my sister came out and said, "Your phone is ringing." Oh, they're playing a joke on me. And I got the phone and it said San Jose and I said, "Oh my God." It was just amazing. I had no idea. I am at a loss for words right now. It's a dream come true, a dream come true."
How do you think you fit into the NFL? Tell us about your skill set and what you think will translate to this level.
"Honestly, just going into an organization with [WR] Randy Moss and [WR Michael] Crabtree and [WR] Mario Manningham, I'm going to learn a lot about it from the veterans. But me coming into it as a rookie, I think I can do great for going downfield. I play the slot, outside, I can do the option runs. I can do it all, but then with that kind of receiving corps, with those types of guys and [WR] Ted Ginn [Jr.] and everything, I'm going to learn stuff. Honestly, right now I'm just out of words right now. I'm just blessed and honored to be in this position with the San Francisco 49ers. I'm happy. I'm happy."
Forgive my ignorance, but do you have a background in returning kicks or punts?
"I returned kicks in college, not so much my senior year of college, but junior year and previously. That's something that I can do, but that's Ted Ginn's job, but I can definitely work on it and do what I've got to do."
Did you meet any of the guys, any of the players? Did you meet Crabtree? Did you meet any of the guys when you were out here?
"I met [QB] Alex Smith. That was it pretty much. None of the receivers were there I believe. Maybe they were working out. I met with all the coaches. This is going to be a tremendous opportunity for me and my family to come to California and play ball for the great organization and great coaching staff. I'm ready to go out there and work as best as I can, I'm happy."
Did you get a chance to watch the 49ers this past season and what are your thoughts about them as a team?
"They were great, a great quarterback and a great tight end. They added some depth at some positions and whatnot, but they have a great defense. They were right there as being the Super Bowl Champions. They are a great organization. They're very physical and I'm just excited to be a part of that type of football play and I'm ready right now to go to California. I'm ready."
Did you sprint from the bathroom? Your sister had your phone?
"Yeah, I sprinted because I didn't know if they were joking or not because during the middle of the draft my cousin had called my phone, but he was playing with me. I thought it was another joke and it's just crazy."
And who was on the other end?
"It was the 49ers. I was so lost for words. I was so out of words. I'm just like, wow, first round?"
So, you didn't know if it was Coach Harbaugh or general manager Trent Baalke? You don't remember who made the call?
"I just heard a voice that said, "We're taking you at pick 30." I just started tearing up. I'm just so exited right now. I'm so excited right now."
Everybody talked about wide receivers who could go at this point in the draft and the talk was about Rueben Randle and Stephen Hill. Were you expecting to hear those names before you heard your name?
"Yeah, that's been the speculation since the draft began. So, I just assumed watching the draft not really expecting to get called tonight honestly. I was just watching just to see when I was going to be taken off the board. But, they called my name and I was just thinking they saw something in me and I'm just blessed. I'm honored to be picked in the first round. I'm just honored right now."
What was the offense like that you guys ran at Illinois primarily?
"It was more so like a spread. We did some option routes. Some option routes and some play-action defenses. We did a lot of things that I think you need on the next level. We did everything. Coach [Former Illinois Offensive Coordinator Paul] Petrino has got me well prepared. I'm just ready to go out there and just excel there. I'm ready."
When you met with Coach Harbaugh and crossed paths with Alex, do you remember what you guys talked about per say?
"Yeah, me and Coach Harbaugh, we had talked at lunch. When I first met him we were eating lunch together. He's a very good coach, very outspoken. He's a very cool guy and we went to his office and he kind of quizzed me on the NFL history. He was comparing me and [Falcons WR] Julio Jones' score, and me and Julio Jones had tied. I told my agent that was the best visit that I had was with San Fran. So, I'm just happy that that blessing came and right now I'm out of words. You don't understand how I feel right now. I'm out of words right now."
Did you have any other follow-ups after that visit by the 49ers? Did they call you? Did they come out to Illinois to work you out?
"No, my agent told me that I had a really great visit and they liked me a lot. But at the same time you hear that all the time so you can't really just stick with that answer. But they told me that they loved me a lot. Right now I'm just excited. I'm excited. Wow."
Who's your agent?
"John Perzley, from Sportstars, is my agent."
What other teams did you visit?
Do you remember what day you were out here?
"No, I can't remember."
It was March though, right? It was early in the process?
"No, it was the middle of April. Maybe the beginning or the middle of April was when it was."
Do you have any connections to the Bay Area, or California even?
"Actually, two of my best friends are in the military. One is in the Air Force and one is in the Navy. One is in San Diego and one is kind of, sort of near L.A. So, that's probably the best connection that I have with the area. I played the bowl game last year vs. UCLA. I'm speechless right now. You don't understand."
Can you recall any of the quiz questions that Harbaugh asked you?
"He asked me-let me think. Who won the Heisman Trophy two years ago? What else? He asked me, wow, he asked me the five championship bowl games in the bowl series. There were a lot of questions, he asked me like, what was the name of the Green Bay field. He just asked me a lot of questions like that and I was getting them right though. I was getting them right. It was quizzing about NFL type questions or whatnot."
Who is your team you rooted for growing up?
"Well, I'm from Jacksonville, Florida, so I obviously was going for the Jacksonville Jaguars. They were my number one team growing up. I was there when [former Jaguars WR] Jimmy Smith, [former Jaguars WR] Keenan McCardell and teams like that. When I was growing up, me and my pops used to go to the games all the time. He had me on his shoulders walking to the game and everything. So, that was my hometown team growing up, but I always loved [former 49ers WR] Jerry Rice though. It's a blessing and honor to be playing in the same uniform as that man. That is crazy. That's crazy."
So, you're kind of happy that you got drafted then?
"Happy isn't even the word to explain how I feel right now. I had no idea I was going to go this early, or this late or however you want to call it. But I did not know that, wow. People say a lot of things, but when your name actually gets called, that's priceless. You can't put a price on that."