Our long national nightmare is over. After much grumbling by fans, it sounds like A.J. Jenkins will be joining Colin Kaepernick, Ricardo Lockette and Chad Hall in Atlanta this weekend.
After the Super Bowl, Kap mentioned that he would be heading down to Atlanta with his receivers so they could begin preparations for the 2013 season. A.J. Jenkins was expected to join them, but was not in town initially, leading to fan grumbling. According to his agent, Jenkins will be getting to Atlanta on Sunday, and will be around as long as Kap wants to work out.
49ers GM Trent Baalke had a chance to talk about Jenkins during his NFL Combine press conference:
What are you looking for from WR A.J. Jenkins this offseason?
"Production, like we do with all our players. We've always said, you go into the draft and you draft guys and you know what they're strong suits are, you know what their weaknesses are and then it's up to them. And A.J.'s a young man that has worked awfully hard. He's going to continue to work hard. I believe he's either in Atlanta right now or on his way to Atlanta where our quarterback is and some of our other players, and they're going to go at it this offseason. And, the biggest growth of players is always between year one and year two. We expect that that's going to happen with A.J., just as we do with all our young players."
He also spoke with local reporters on the side and had some interesting comments about Jenkins and his development:
"He's a young guy that came out of a college system that's taken a while to grasp to the pro system," Baalke said. "It's not a work ethic issue, it's not a skill set issue. It's learning the craft at the pro level. And that's a position historically that some have adapted to more quickly than others."
There have been question marks surrounding Jenkins from day one. At the first rookie minicamp he struggled as he recognized he was not in NFL shape yet. He got himself into the necessary shape to compete after that, but obviously he had plenty of struggles. As he heads into year two, I don't think anybody is expecting a bust-out season, but he will need to make some significant progress. Aside from getting cut, there is really nowhere to go but up for him. He is not yet a bust, but he does need to take full advantage of this offseason to come into OTAs, minicamp and training camp ready to make a strong impression.