The story that most everyone is tracking this offseason is the development of wide receiver A.J. Jenkins. The 49ers second-year receiver had zero production in year one, but he will now be expected to step up with the injury to Michael Crabtree. We would be hoping for production no matter what, but the loss of Crabtree only adds to the expectations.
The 49ers opened their mandatory minicamp today, and the media had a chance to speak with offensive coordinator Greg Roman, head coach Jim Harbaugh and Jenkins himself. We've got transcripts for Roman and Harbaugh, and the Jenkins transcript and video from Cohn and Bay Area Sports Guy, respectively.
With WR Michael Crabtree out, have any of the young guys stepped up in your eyes?
"Yeah, I think they're stepping up and it's a process. I think they're working extremely hard. [WR] A.J. [Jenkins], I thought the last two days of last week, had the two best days he's had since I've been here. [WR] Quinton Patton and [WR] Ricardo Lockette, they're all stepping up and it's just going to be a continuing process. We're trying to get these guys ready for training camp, to come in and compete, and win a job and it's happening."
When you say he had his best two days, WR A.J. Jenkins, what did he do?
"Wednesday and Thursday, just made some clutch catches for us when we were moving the ball. Just made plays, did all the right things, made plays when he had the opportunity and he just needs to continue doing that."
Have you seen a change in his demeanor from a year ago?
"I think there's a natural process that goes on, a comfort level and that's something that's growing all the time and needs to continue to grow."
Did WR A.J. Jenkins make significant progress working with QB Colin Kaepernick during the offseason, along with WR Ricardo Lockette? Are you seeing some signs of what they can do?
"There's no question. Any work is good, we believe more is more and they did more work. Therefore they're further along than they would be had they not done that. So, that was really good for everybody including Kap [QB Colin Kaepernick]."
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman was talking about WR A.J. Jenkins and how he had a couple of nice practices back-to-back. Have you seen the same sort of progress playmaking from him?
"Yes. I thought A.J. had his best week of football since he's been a 49er the last four days of OTAs, which was the last week of OTAs. And he continues to build on that."
How is he different right now versus a year ago?
"Well, I think anybody that's gone from year one to year two, it's a great window of opportunity to improve in the kind of fashion that you'll never have again in your career. Because you're going from doing things for the first time to now everything that you do, you've already done. And big strides can be made that way."
You can check out his transcript HERE. Below is some intriguing video courtesy of Bay Area Sports Guy:
Jenkins' comments about learning the playbook are rather interesting. Let's hope he has spent the entire offseason pouring through his playbook. The physical skills need to show up, but without getting the mental side of the game in gear, physical skills can be limited.
As for Harbaugh and Roman, BASG made a good point about the positive comments. The 49ers have a vested interest in getting the media off Jenkins' back for the time being. Distractions will not help Jenkins become a better receiver, so why not throw out the positive comments. Obviously, we all hope Jenkins takes a big step forward this year, but for now we're left to wait, wonder and speculate. We'll get some info over the next three days, but even that we have to take with a grain of salt.