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)
ESPN NFC West blogger Mike Sando took part in an NFC West chat yesterday, and had an interesting question that actually did not make it into the chat. He was asked what kind of impact the 49ers could expect from rookie wide receiver A.J. Jenkins following what many described as an up and down offseason. Sando gave a detailed response, capped off with a comment that he would be "a little surprised" if Jenkins caught more than "30 or so passes" as a rookie.
The 49ers made some potentially big additions to their wide receiver corps this offseason, even before drafting A.J. Jenkins. Randy Moss and Mario Manningham are potentially immediate upgrades to a group of wide receivers that dealt with numerous injuries and struggles in 2011. We don't really know what to expect from Moss after a season off, and Mario Manningham faces some intriguing competition from Kyle Williams, but all in all, I think it is reasonable to be at least a little optimistic about the veteran wide receivers.
Although the 49ers look to have solid veteran depth at the receiver position in 2012, they don't have a lot of long term options, with Michael Crabtree as the only veteran signed beyond 2013. Enter A.J. Jenkins. While it would be nice to see an immediate big return on a first round pick, the 49ers are in a position where they can develop him this year and slowly work him into the rotation as he earns his keep.
Given the situation at wide receiver, what would you consider to be a productive rookie year from Jenkins? It is not simple to describe what I mean by that. I don't know if statistics will necessarily describe a truly productive season from Jenkins. If he came out and had 50 catches for 750 yards, I think we'd almost all be happy to some extent. At the same time, a 20 catch year could still be productive if he shows some kinds of signs of development. I don't really know, so I figured I'd open it up for discussion. What do you guys think?