There’s been discussion of AJ Jenkins since training camp started, lots of it. Jim Harbaugh even got into the act, and I’ll get back to Jim in a minute. Reporters at camp — I’m not there because I’m on vacation — well, camp reporters from the major outlets just about give daily glimpses of Jenkins’ progress, if he’s indeed making progress. People are focused on Jenkins because he was the Niners first pick in the draft, he was an unexpected and perhaps unusual pick and because the first pick tends to define the ability of the people who do the picking.

Harbaugh, who’s a regular Chatty Cathy these days, said he has five No. 1 receivers but he didn’t include Jenkins in that rather generous and expansive list. I mean, how can there be five No. 1 receivers? Harbaugh did include Kyle Williams, a sixth-round pick, in the list. It makes you wonder about Jenkins.

Harbaugh, as you know, also went off on one of his anti-media rants, saying the media has put down Jenkins (like Harbaugh didn’t) and he will keep a list of names of reporters who doubted Jenkins. Is that what you call an enemies list?

Why is Harbaugh defending Jenkins? Because he’s Harbaugh’s pick and Trent Baalke’s pick, and Harbaugh is defending — rather defensively — their judgment.

So that is the subtext of what’s happening vis a vis Jenkins at Niners HQ. Reporters judging the wisdom of the pick. Harbaugh defending his wisdom.


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  1. Stan

    Nixon had a list. Bush dwarfed that with “homeland security”..(“He makes lefty sports posts”,says mine) SO why not Harbaugh?
    He’s got to realize..he’s a great coach,but he’s setting himself up for some scathing criticism from those paid-and for decades- to be experts in that world.
    He’s just making the moment more certain by the day..

    August 2nd, 2012 10:00 am

  2. J Canseco

    Harbaugh is a mad scientist. As long as he excels at coaching football, I don’t think he should be held to the same standards of decorum as the general population, at least in the context of his job and interaction with reporters.

    I’m totally serious.

    August 2nd, 2012 10:22 am

  3. Michael

    I don’t agree with your rational Lowell. Aldon Smith was a “controversial” pick last year and considered a “reach”. I would even argue he was more controversial given he went 7th overall (not 30th) and everyone thought SF needed a QB (All of whom were still on the board). However, the local media, Cohn’s included, did not write nearly as much about Aldon’s daily progress, prospects as a bust, etc. etc. In my opinion, some younger media members (wink wink) didn’t agree with the Jenkins pick (and said exactly that in multiple blogs, one titled “49ers blow first pick”) and have decided to try to defend their opinion by trying to prove their point on a daily basis documenting AJ’s struggles (No one is mentioning that 90% of young receivers struggle when first entering the NFL, before the “light goes on”). Its getting old and tired.

    August 2nd, 2012 10:44 am

  4. Dennis

    I don’t think what Harbaugh said had anything to do with protecting him and Baalke. It sound to me like they are both pretty comfortable with themselves and certainly not worried about what the press thinks. My guess is that he is trying to protect Jenkins. Trying to give the kid every opportunity to succeed by taking away any negatives that are not on the football field.

    I don’t judge football coaches or politicians by what they say. I judge them by what they do. Based on what I am reading it wouldn’t surprise me if Jenkins was put on the practice squad. We will just have to wait and see what Harbuagh does before we know what he thinks and even then we still might not know.

    August 2nd, 2012 10:44 am

  5. Dennis

    I want to add that I do agree with you that Jenkins does appear to be an area of concern whatever Harbaugh says about it.

    August 2nd, 2012 10:48 am

  6. Bob In Beaverton

    Kind of lean with Jose on this one. Kind of like Billy Martin without the alcohol and fisticuffs.

    August 2nd, 2012 10:53 am

  7. Mark M

    I’m not completely sure why Harbaugh is so worried about what the press says at all. He proved everyone wrong last year. So much better to prove value on the field than getting into tiffs with you guys in July/August.

    No clue why he has a chip on his shoulder on this topic, unless it’s just that he’s one of those guys that always has it up there. Perhaps he uses the media to communicate with his players since they seem to pay close attention to it. That seems bizarre to me when he has them as captive audience all the time in camp.

    As far as Jenkins goes, it’s a classic case of reading way too much into camp. I’m waiting for regular season to evaluate this kid.

    August 2nd, 2012 10:53 am

  8. CohnZohn

    Michael, I don’t feel old and tired. I want to remind you the receiver’s coach went nuts on the field yesterday, really laid into Jenkins. It was not fully reported in the press because they are not allowed to quote directly what is said on the field. Here’s a prediction. AJ Jenkins will not approach what Aldon Smith did his rookie year — of course, I know they play different positions.

    August 2nd, 2012 10:55 am

  9. CohnZohn

    Dennis, if they put Jenkins on the practice squad that’s quite an indictment of the draft choice. You do not draft in the first round thinking practice squad.

    August 2nd, 2012 10:56 am

  10. Michael

    Lowell – I totally agree with you on Aldon vs. AJ. But AJ was drafted to eventually replace Moss, Crabtree, or Manningham (All have 1-2 year contracts). Here is another more pertinant thought: Jenkins scrutiny is a direct result of all the 49ers success. In years past, there were so many story lines and question marks going into each season with the 49ers, that you could blog for days and days and not cover them all. This season there are very few. Hence, the spotlight gets brighter on any perceived blemish. The old adage rings true: “”The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.”"

    August 2nd, 2012 11:05 am

  11. Stan

    Kreuger wanted to say Lowell Cohn when he was on Comcast as “those writers”. Just like Harbaugh with “taking names”..yeah,Lowell and Grant.

    August 2nd, 2012 11:19 am

  12. MJ

    And Jenkins would never go to practice squad. You have to go through waivers to get there and anyone who valued him as a 2nd or 3rd round talent would snatch him up.

    August 2nd, 2012 11:23 am

  13. Dennis

    It sounds like the 49ers have more receivers better than Jenkins right then they have spots on the roster. Something is going to have to give or Jenkins will have to get better before cut day. I don’t see Harbuagh keeping someone just to save face.

    August 2nd, 2012 12:29 pm

  14. MJ

    Dennis….do you follow football??? You dont cut a 1st round draft pick, a guy you signed to a 4 year deal, who you paid millions in signing bonus alone, after training camp. Its not about saving face, this isn’t Japanese business culture, face doesn’t exist in this dojo. In your world Troy Aikman would have been cut after his first training camp, or first season, since he was basically trash his rookie year.

    The Niners will carry 6 receivers and dress 4 more often than not. They will carry 6 total RBs (Gore, James, Hunter Cartwright, Miller and whomever wins out between Jacobs and Dixon) and they will most likely only carry 2 TE”s to account for this. This is the reason guys like Dobbs and Tukuafu are getting time at FB and TE positions.

    Im just in awe of your thought process but not in a good way.

    August 2nd, 2012 1:11 pm

  15. RC

    I think Michael pretty much nailed it.

    August 2nd, 2012 1:59 pm

  16. Chris

    Lol, I concur with RC. Pretty much aced that debate.

    August 2nd, 2012 2:21 pm

  17. Dennis

    MJ, all I said was that I wouldn’t be surprised based on what I am reading. I didn’t say they would cut him. But if he is as bad as Grant claims he is then they should cut their losses. Sorry you are not impressed with my thought process, but it sounds like it is your problem. I am sure you will get over it.

    August 2nd, 2012 2:30 pm

  18. CohnZohn

    Let me jump in here, guys, and say please get along. FYI, Grant never said the 49ers should get rid of Jenkins, nor has he claimed Jenkins will be a bust. He merely is reporting what he sees on a day-to-day basis. Let’s make the tone a little calmer.

    August 2nd, 2012 2:33 pm

  19. Larry Rowe

    Cohn, what are your perdictions on the Green Bay game. I think our D matchs up well with High Powered O’s. I think we win 27 to 10.

    By the way, people forget that Blogs are all about perception and are taking this way to hard. The 49ers do not really care what we think if it does make them real money. AJ is just a kid. He will be fine. We will see in Minn. if he can run a route or catch a pass.

    August 2nd, 2012 3:02 pm

  20. Paul

    Outside of QB, WR’s have the hardest transition into the NFL. The corners all have 4.4 speed and are physical. The safeties will knock your lights out if you make a mistake and they face defensive schemes they never see in college.

    For every AJ Green who was an absolute monster last year for the Bengals – there are 50 Rashaun Woods. As it has been said, Jenkins doesn’t have to do squat this season — it’s about year two and beyond.

    Lowell, I see Michael’s point. Grant lobbied for Fleener, perhaps not to the 49ers directly, but at least in his blog. So when Grant writes that Jenkins is struggling (and I sure he is), it looks like an “I told you so.” As I commented in Grant’s blog, I wish we could get the transcript of Morton undressing young AJ.

    August 2nd, 2012 3:13 pm

  21. MJ

    In a very calm tone, hopefully, they wouldnt cut Jenkins this year or next. He’s an investment. If they expected him to be a day 1 starter they wouldn’t have signed Manningham and/or Moss or brought back Ginn. You don’t give up on a 1st round pick after one training camp, and even less so after the 3 or 4 practices, no matter how many times he gets dressed down. I bet by the end of training camp the reports will be that he looks much improved and this will have all been for naught.

    Lets all watch the first game a week from tomorrow and see how he looks, cause really we (the fans) haven’t seen anything.

    And Lowell, has anyone mentioned that your blog pages randomly refresh? I’ve experienced this on multiple computers using either Google Chrome, Firefox, or IE. Gets a bit frustrating when writing a reply, you look away and its refreshed.

    August 2nd, 2012 3:16 pm

  22. Tommy CostaRica

    Lowell! Holy Vacation! First time I’ve ever seen you referee! One of the best things here about this column over others including Grant’s, is that people don’t sling mud here very much. I don’t want to read those I only want inside information and critical thinking.

    August 2nd, 2012 4:32 pm

  23. NeverWrong

    I think the controversy is a delayed reaction from the surprise pick. AJ coming out of Illinois, which was 2-6 in the Big Ten and the coach fired, and not truly starring until his senior year. Sort of out of mind, then suddenly as a first round pick, in. With that background–not getting all the wide-ranging due diligence provided to players from Alabama others in the consistently dominant ilk–the scouting by the Forty-Niners must have been intensive; and AJ is likely going to be a very good pro.

    August 2nd, 2012 4:39 pm

  24. gary

    R. Woods and J.J. Stokes.
    I think 49er fans have long memories about
    1st rd wide receiver mistakes. R. Woods
    is the closest potential, due to being the end of Rd 1.
    I realize Harbaugh has defenders. That is fine, he had a fantastically successful first year. But he is very thin skinned, and socially (trying to be nice) challenged.
    Jenkins will declare himself soon, boom or bust.

    August 2nd, 2012 4:39 pm

  25. KauaiRobert

    Ist rounders to the PS…I LOVE IT!!!
    It seems to me that this blog gets a little dumbed-down whenever the topic is football.
    I’m not trying to disrespect anyone…but that is why I usually don’t participate in these discussuions that pertain to my Niners.
    And yes…they’re MY Niners!
    That said, I can chat all day long with anyone who really knows and loves the game and especially the 49ers.
    Harbaugh 4 President!!!

    August 2nd, 2012 5:48 pm

  26. lameduck

    As I’ve said before, let’s see AJ in December. He gets a long leash.

    August 2nd, 2012 7:00 pm

  27. CohnZohn

    Paul, not a chance you can get the transcript. Not allowed.

    August 2nd, 2012 9:31 pm

  28. Alex

    Seems like people are assuming because a coach is yelling at a player that means he’s not very good?

    Did anyone really expect that SOME development wouldn’t be required no matter WHO the pick is?

    Let’s face it, WR depth in FA was pretty good. Manningham, Moss are good additions. Crabtree is coming off of a very strong year. Kyle Williams is actually not bad as a receiver and a football player. A lapse in judgement is his only knock to date. Why not draft someone who has the potential to be amazing, rather than someone who will be decent now, and decent later?

    August 2nd, 2012 9:53 pm

  29. Dennis

    Lowell, I know Grant didn’t say he was a bust or the 49ers should get rid of him and neither did I. I just said I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t make the 53 man roster. By the way, Grant isn’t the only reporter saying that Jenkins is struggling or that there is an undrafted rookie in camp who looks a lot better than our 1st round pick.

    August 3rd, 2012 8:00 am

  30. gan

    Point #1: Theres 1st round picks and then there are 1st round picks. Aldon Smith was picked 7th. AJ Jenkins was picked 30th. You can’t expect the 30th pick to perform like a top 10 pick. The talent level diminishes as you work through the draft. Point #2: Draft picks are something like Lottery tickets where the winners aren’t read until 3 years later. A good GM will hit more than he misses but theres never been a GM in history that hits every time. Furthermore trying to assess the pick before any football has been played is dumb. Players develop at different rates. Point#3: The team is deep at receiver but many of the contracts aren’t long. They smartly (in my opinion) brought in free agents to address a glaring need in the short term. But the long term solution at receiver may not be on the field that often this year. Thats not an indictment of Jenkins as a pick, its a reflection of a sensible strategy. The team needs to win now so they bring in mercenary talent to facilitate that. In the longer term Jenkins will get his chance to prove his worth.

    August 3rd, 2012 9:28 am

  31. MJ

    Who is this undrafted rookie who looks better? I remember a report back in May that said in their “figure eight” drills Owusu(?) looked quicker in that drill than AJ, but when they actually got into football situations, running routes, running plays, etc, Owusu wasn’t even close to Jenkins.

    Again, lets wait until we, as fans, see him, before we make broad judgements one way or the next. Two reporters could view the same practice and you could have two varying reports come out. Maiocco said that Jenkins made the best catch of all the receivers he watched this offseason so it’s not as if he’s been a complete failure.

    August 3rd, 2012 10:55 am

  32. Dennis

    MJ, http://49ers.pressdemocrat.com/2012/07/inside-the-49ers/training-camp-report-the-good-nathan-palmer-stands-out/

    August 3rd, 2012 3:47 pm

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