Well, thank Montana that is over with. A.J. Jenkins, Trent Baalke's lingering embarrassment, has been jettisoned to San Francisco's "Island of Misfit Toys," also known as "Kansas City." There Jenkins will join his predecessor, the most irrationally hated/vilified player on the 49ers' roster, Alex Smith. Both men have been called many things, a reach, a bust, "jerkwad," often with little thought given to whether these labels are accurate or not.
Jenkins' departure leaves more of a sour taste in the mouth as Smith was, at least, redeemed in many ways under Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman's guidance. Jenkins never got an opportunity, and most assuredly never would, to have that defining game; the Barry Zito NLCS Game 5 moment, where a single performance absolves you of all past transgressions. Alex Smith had a season of those moments including a coup de grâce for his critics against the Saints in the playoffs.
But now our two favorite whipping boys are gone. The two we loved to hate for absurd reasons. Who will fill this void now? Here are my candidates to step up and deliver a stellar performance as a fan-hatred receptacle:
1. Nnandi Asomugha: he is a very low risk signing, but the imbalance of expectations and reality is obvious. Some seem to think he was just stuck in a bad system in Philly (partially true), but they also fail to remember that he is now 32 years old. The 49ers' secondary has been the weakest part of this defense for the last few years and that doesn't look like it will change this season. So jump on board the Nnandi hate train!
2. Kyle Williams: he ruined Alex Smith's comeback party and then got hurt the following year. What a selfish malcontent!
3. Glenn Dorsey: KC's "Alex Smith," never lived up to his lofty draft status and probably never will. At least he is not Courtney Brown.
4. Anquan Boldin: this hatred is supposed to be irrational remember? He may have beasted our sieve of a secondary in the Super Bowl last year, but he hasn't put up a 1000 yard season since he left Arizona and he's only scored 7 regular season touchdowns over the last 2 years. As soon as he doesn't meet expectations The Nation could call for his head.
5. LaMichael James: he really came on at the end of last year with some stellar post-season performances. So, what if his progress stalls?
6. Lawrence Okoye: he is not even American! Go play futbol!
7. Phil Dawson: mostly because people won't realize that he's not David Akers. Also, he'll probably miss a kick at some point this season and it's really easy to hate kickers.
8. Eric Reid: talent abounds in this young man but he will have growing pains throughout the season. His problem is that 49ers fans seem to have put Dashon Goldson on a, mildly, undeserved pedestal. Goldson is a good player but he'd rather come up to make the big hit than play center field like they needed, especially in the Super Bowl.
9. The Un-Holy Trinity: Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan, and Mike Singletary...oh wait, that hatred isn't irrational...carry on.
10. Chris Culliver: worst case scenario is he gets bored and spends too much time tweeting before thinking.
11. Colin Kaepernick: hats yada, yada, yada. Tattoos, yada, yada, yada. Sunglasses indoors, yada, yada, yada...This one is a bigger reach than AJ in the first round. BOOM! Trent Baalke burn! Kap is just too loveable, unless you're a Seahawks fan.
As you can see, there are plenty of options for us to enjoy hating as a collective hive-mind. Who fuels your irrational wrath?