BLOOMINGTON, IN - OCTOBER 08: A.J. Jenkins #8 of the Illinois Illini catches a pass while defended by Lawrence Barnett #23 of the Indiana Hoosiers during the game at Memorial Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Bloomington, Indiana. Illinois won 41-20. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
The San Francisco 49ers have added some weapons to their offense in the form of a couple high-profile rookies. In their first year, the Niners will hoping to get some decent production out of their first two picks in 2012, in wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and running back LaMichael James.
Based of the history of some recent young offensive players contributing in similar roles, I've projected reasonable statistics for both Jenkins and James in their rookie campaigns.
A.J. Jenkins, WR
38 receptions - 473 yards - 4 touchdowns
3 carries - 18 yards - 0 touchdowns
LaMichael James, RB
67 carries - 341 yards - 6 touchdowns
18 catches - 112 yards - 1 touchdown
Jenkins will have his fair share of opportunities but I view him being used like Aldon Smith; not as a starter, and put in position to make plays based on what he does best. I do believe the 49ers will be throwing the ball more in 2012, but it's hard to see Jenkins being the top receiver as a rookie on an already crowded roster.
Jenkins will likely have Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree ahead of him. And in certain instances, Kyle Williams will be called upon to take up a position. Jenkins will be out there when the 49ers are spread out wide, and that's where his opportunities to get catches, yards and touchdowns will come from.
James, like Jenkins, is up against an awful lot of competition as well. Jenkins comes to the 49ers as a second round pick but it still looking at Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs, Kendall Hunter and even Anthony Dixon ahead of him. James probably has edge over Dixon, but still hasn't proven anything yet.
In his rookie year, Kendall Hunter had 112 carries, but given that it is a more crowded backfield, I see him getting less carries, but averaging more yards per carry. I also believe James will have a chance to get in the end zone for the 49ers. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see James score at least seven times in 16 games.
Both Jenkins and James come from places where they were depended on to be "the guy." In San Francisco, they will be transitioning to the pro level and will assume more complementing roles. It is something neither are used to, but when they do get their touches in the NFL, they will certainly make the most of them.
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