Thearon W. Henderson
Despite failing to a record a reception during the season, A.J. Jenkins remains ahead of Chad Hall on San Francisco's depth chart, as the 49ers get ready to take on the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver A.J. Jenkins hasn't caught a pass so far in his rookie season, and did not even play during San Francisco's thrilling 28-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game.
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Still, San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh maintains that Jenkins is ahead of Hall on San Francisco's depth chart, as the 49ers look to capture their sixth Super Bowl title -- and first of the Harbaugh era:
"We had a specific play that we felt Chad would be very good at," Harbaugh said. "And that play got called in the game.
"A.J. was ahead of Chad on the depth chart had something happened to Michael (Crabtree) or Randy (Moss)."
Jenkins was selected with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Jenkins spent his collegiate career at the University of Illinois, where he caught 90 passes for 1,276 yards and eight touchdowns during his senior season.
That's 90 more receptions, and 1,276 more yards than he's had during his rookie campaign for the 49ers.
Despite being a first-round pick, and despite an injury to Mario Manningham, Jenkins has been unable to see significant playing time for San Francisco this season, and was only active for three of San Francisco's 16 regular season contests.
In the preseason, Jenkins caught eight passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. Though not highly productive, those numbers aren't disastrous, either.
It seems unlikely that Jenkins will play a big role in Super Bowl XLVII, but football fans, and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, shouldn't write Jenkins off completely -- not with Jim Harbaugh as San Francisco's head coach.
After all, this is the same head coach who had the fortitude to bench Alex Smith in the middle of a career-year in favor of the unknown Colin Kaepernick. An NFC title later, Harbaugh looks like a genius for making the move, as Kaepernick led the Niners past the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional round, before guiding San Francisco's offense against Atlanta in the NFC Championship game.
Prior to the postseason beginning, Harbaugh called on Jenkins to "step up" in the playoffs. So far, Jenkins hasn't had the opportunity. Luckily for him (and the 49ers), there's still one more playoff game left on the schedule -- Super Bowl XLVII, and there's no better place for Jenkins to step up than that.
If Harbaugh is sincere in his belief in Jenkins' ability to "step up" and help the 49ers, then there's certainly no reason to think the rookie wide receiver is incapable of making a big play in the biggest game of the year.
It's now all on Jenkins, and to an extent, Harbaugh, to make that happen.