Jauan Jennings was selected in the seventh round with the #217 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Coming out of Tennessee, Jennings was projected as a big slot with size and strength that is a powerful run blocker and moves the chains.
Fast-forward to 2023, and that is precisely what Jennings has done for the 49ers. The 49ers have found production from another seventh-round pick, which is no small feat. Jennings fits right in with the team’s physical style and mindset.
As teams around the league look to duplicate the 49ers’ formula of physicality, Jennings will surely garner interest around the league, as he is set to become a restricted free agent in 2024. Even with the ability to match any offer from any team, the organization may be bracing for his departure. Drafting Ronnie Bell can be viewed as a preemptive move to fill Jennings’ role, in the event he is offered a pay increase and an increased role with another team.
Experience: 3 accrued seasons
Weight: 212 lbs.
Jennings signed a four-year contract worth $3.4 million with $111,024 guaranteed in June 2020. The 49ers waived Jennings and brought him back to the practice squad in September 2020 with a base salary of $142,800. In each year since, Jennings’ base salary has increased to $660,000, $825,000, and $940,000.
How he can improve in 2023
While Jennings has been reliable in clutch and third-down situations, his drop percentages are a concern, for a player with low target numbers. Nine dropped passes in two seasons with 59 receptions need improvement. Two seasons’ worth of drops equates to a 13.2 percent total.
Where Jennings makes his mark
Jennings’ physicality is the staple of his game. Whether it comes from run blocking or after the catch (11 missed tackles forced in his career), Jennings sets the tone.
Thirty-eight of his 59 receptions have gone for first downs. Jennings is as reliable as it gets on third-down.
The 49ers have a tough decision to make. In terms of bang for their buck, Jennings’ contract has returned a ton of value. The issue becomes, will other teams push to add Jennings, and what are the 49ers prepared to match if push comes to shove?