clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

49ers 90-in-90: Will Jauan Jennings make the roster?

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today is wide receiver Jauan Jennings

Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

When the rest of the league zigs, Kyle Shanahan zags. The NFL has trended toward spreading you out and getting more playmakers on the field, while Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers want to stay in base personnel and include fullbacks and tight ends to control what the defense can do. This year, I can see the 49ers using more “big-bodied” receivers as opposed to the smaller, speedier wideouts. The third-round pick from the 2019 draft Jalen Hurd figures to have a serious role for San Francisco’s offense. Will seventh-round pick a Jauan Jennings benefit from this move?

If you watched Jennings highlights or plays while he was at Tennessee, he probably broke a tackle when he touched the ball. Jennings senior year was littered with plays of him running through, over, around—you name it—defenders. Is he going to blow you away with speed? Nope. That’s not who Jennings is. That doesn’t mean he can’t be effective, though. What Jennings showed he understands how to use his body to get open.

Most importantly, he can catch the ball. Drops plagued the 49ers last year at critical times. Jennings consistently caught the ball when defenders were draped all over him. Can he get away without separating at the NFL level? That’s what we’ll find out.

Basic Info

Age: 22 (turns 23 on July 10)

Experience: Rookie

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 215 pounds

Cap Status

Over the Cap has Jennings under contract for the 2020 season only. Jennings will make $610,000.

What to expect in 2020

We’re projecting Jennings’ role at this point. It’s difficult to know what to expect from a receiver that ran a 4.7 40-yard dash entering the NFL. A savvy cornerback will know Jennings speed limitations and sit on all of his routes. That doesn’t mean they’ll prevent Jennings from catching the ball, and it surely doesn’t mean the defensive back will bring Jennings to the ground.

Jennings has a lot of stats that back him up. PFF has a stat called “yards per route run.” Jennings was fourth in college football in “yards per route run” in the past two seasons. Jennings led the receiver draft class in forced missed tackles as well with 30. Add into the fact that Jauan had some of the strongest hands in the draft, and it’s easy to see how Shanahan can carve a role out for the former Volunteer.

We can expect Jennings to get an opportunity, and that’s all he can ask for as a seventh-round pick. Jennings has the skillset to make plays in the NFL. He screams “big slot matchup nightmare” in the Niners offense. Jennings’s usage in the preseason will give us an idea of what to expect. That is if he is still on the roster in September.

Odds of making the roster

Even as a Day 3 pick, the selection of Jennings puts every receiver not named Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Jalen Hurd on notice. Even with Hurd, he has to prove he can hold up. Jennings feels like a backup plan if Hurd isn’t healthy. With that said, it’s not fair to put Jennings into a box. If Jennings proves during training camp that Jimmy Garoppolo is at his best throwing to bigger targets over the middle, he’ll be on the roster. If Jennings is constantly getting open on this defense, he’ll be on the roster.

The odds are against Jennings and in favor of Jennings at the same time. Beating out the likes of Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, and Travis Benjamin won’t be easy. What consistent trait does Shanahan like in his wideouts? The ability to create after the catch. Jennings did it at a high level in college. He’ll make the roster if he can continue to do so at the NFL level or be a threat in the red area.