The way Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree clicked down the stretch in 2012 — officially boosting Crabtree from “bust” status after four years of fighting it — had to delight San Francisco 49ers fans, making it especially brutal when Crabtree suffered an Achilles injury that should keep him out late into the regular season. Now that San Fran’s lost its No. 10 overall pick from 2009 it must look for another receiver to step up to assume the role in training camp, and one of their great hopes will be their 2012 first-round receiver in AJ Jenkins.
Jenkins has much yet to prove, however, after logging zero catches in his first year out of Illinois. This has much to do with both the emergence of Crabtree, along with the many two-tight ends sets and 22 formations that Coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman love to use. Whether the departure of versatile tight endDelanie Walker changes this remains to be seen, but the WR depth on the Niners is no easy place to move up instantaneously.
Still, Jenkins has as much to prove as anyone in Niners camp after only receiving one target in 71 snaps last season, earning his first offensive appearance in Week 14 before starting every game — save for the NFC championship — through the Super Bowl. The likes of Mario Manningham and the rest of the cast don’t seem immediately ready to be No. 1 receiving options quite yet, and it’s hard to tell if aging Anquan Boldin can continue produce away from his familiarity with Joe Flacco at this juncture, but word out of NorCal is that Jenkins came to camp bulked up.
“I was just working my butt off trying to put on some pounds, trying to gain some weight so I can be able to go across the middle,” Jenkins said via’s the team’s website. “I was just trying to work on my overall game. … I’m learning everything. I don’t have any limit in anything. I’m a guy who’s trying to come in and make a play, make an impact as well as on special teams.
“I’m learning anything and everything I can. … Learning the playbook gave me the confidence to go out there just knowing what I’m doing. I’m a lot better than I was last year around this time.”