Baalke: Jenkins has work ethic, skill set to succeed

Baalke: 'The biggest growth in players is between Year 1 and 2'

Baalke: Jenkins has work ethic, skill set to succeed
February 21, 2013, 8:30 am
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Trent Baalke said the 49ers are looking for "do-extra guys," and he places A.J. Jenkins in that class. (AP)

Editor's note: Stay logged on to CSNBayArea.com as 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco reports from the NFL combine in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS -- General manager Trent Baalke said his faith in 49ers wide receiver A.J. Jenkins has not wavered after a season in which the first-round draft pick made no impact as a rookie.

Even with season-ending injuries to Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams, Jenkins did not make a contribution. He saw just one pass thrown his way the entire season. He dropped it. In 16 regular-season games, he played just 35 snaps from scrimmage.

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"I think there are a lot of things that go into that," Baalke said Thursday at the NFL scouting combine. "First of all, we had a lot of people in front of him. He's a young guy that came out of a college system and it's taken a while to grasp the pro system.

"It isn't a work-ethic issue. It's not a skill-set issue. It's learning the craft at the pro level. And that's a position, historically, that some have adapted to quicker than others. There are a lot of things that go into it. But we're confident in his abilities, as we were when we drafted him."

Jenkins, the No. 30 overall pick last year from Illinois, is scheduled to join a group of young 49ers players, led by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, to train at Competitive Edge Sports in Atlanta before the opening of the 49ers' offseason program.

"To my knowledge, if he's not already there he's on his way there," Baalke said of Jenkins. "We'd expect him to be there working right with those guys. You certainly you want your quarterback and receivers working together as much as possible. With the way the offseason works, nothing. it's up to them to do the right thing and go to work and hone their craft. it goes back to selecting the right guys who have the right mindset."

Baalke said the 49ers are looking for "do-extra guys," and he places Jenkins in that class. He said he expects Jenkins to make a huge jump in improvement between his first and second NFL seasons.

"The bottom line is he didn't get on the field this year," Baalke said. "He knows what he needs to do. We know what we need to do as an organization to help him get there. And we're confident that we're going to be able to do that."

The 49ers did not get much production from their 2012 draft class. Second-round pick LaMichael James did not play until late in the season after backup running back Kendall Hunter was lost to a season-ending torn Achilles. Fourth-round pick Joe Looney, who spent most of training camp rehabbing a Lisfranc foot fracture, did not play. Safety Trenton Robinson, a sixth-round pick, and outside linebacker Cam Johnson, a seventh-rounder, saw limited action.

"We feel very good about the class," Baalke said. "We didn't get a lot of production out of the class, but if you look at the players we drafted and the positions we drafted, they were coming into some loaded depth at certain positions.

"We feel very good about A.J. We feel very good about LaMichael James. We feel good about that group of guys. Joe Looney came in off an injury into an offensive line that's a pretty good group. So we weren't expecting a ton of production, to be honest with you. Did we did get what we expected? That's yet to be determined. There are a lot of years left in those guys' playing careers."

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