SANTA CLARA, CA - MAY 11: A.J. Jenkins #17 of the San Francisco 49ers catches a pass during Rookie Minincamp at the San Francisco 49ers practice facility on May 11, 2012 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
In the 2012 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers drafted wide receiver A.J. Jenkins in the first round from the University of Illinois. There were strong indications that the Niners would select a receiver in round one but who it would be was a bit of a mystery. There was a glaring need at the position as most analysts and columnists would say the 49ers were one playmaking receiver away from a 6th Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
In the time leading up to the draft, I don't believe I read one mock draft that had A.J. Jenkins going to the 49ers at No. 30, and most didn't even have him in the first round at all. Critics say the Niners reached for Jenkins in the first round, but I don't believe in "reaching" -- if a team really wants a player, they can take him whenever they please; ask the Seattle Seahawks.
However, at No. 30, there was a top-10, if not top-5 talent still on the board in cornerback Janoris Jenkins. The reasons for Jenkins fall to round two are well documented, as he's had a bit of a troubled past -- I just think he's had some bad luck. But on the field, this kid is a dynamo.
I often wonder if San Francisco was close to taking Jenkins in the first round given their stance of players with troubled pasts. The idea for most of the teams in the league is to add the best player available, with team-need in the back of your mind.
Now, I'll agree, the 49ers are loaded in the secondary but the addition of Jenkins would have made folks wonder what was more dominant: the 49ers front seven or their defensive backs?
Carlos Rogers was re-signed and all eleven starters were retained, and Chris Culliver is a very talented up-and-comer but I believe if the 49ers regret on passing on any player, it's J. Jenkins. He's a chameleon at the cornerback position; altering his game according to the skill set of the wide receiver he is facing that particular week. He is also an athletic freak, playmaker and ball hawk.
In the second round, Janoris Jenkins was selected by the division rival St. Louis Rams, who have looked to drastically upgrade their secondary. There have been high remarks regarding J. Jenkins already, even though it is early and teams are just doing pad-less workouts.
I can't help but wonder if San Francisco will be kicking themselves over this one, especially if the other Jenkins (A.J.), doesn't work out as expected. But the bottom line is, did fans regret selecting Aldon Smith over Blaine Gabbert? -- don't think so. Was Vernon Davis drafted too high as a tight end? It doesn't appear that way.
We have to have faith in the 49ers front office, but missing on the undisputed talent of Janoris Jenkins could come back and bite the Niners some day; if not this season. I honestly can't wait to see which Jenkins turns out to be better, A.J. or Janoris. Better yet, I can't wait to see them compete twice a year in the coming seasons.
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