San Francisco 49ers: 4 Options to Replace Michael Crabtree

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A.J. Jenkins

May 22, 2013; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver A.J. Jenkins (17) carries the ball during organized team activities at the 49ers training complex. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Jenkins was expected to make an impact in 2012, but he failed to do so. Luckily for San Francisco’s first-round draft pick, he has a chance to redeem himself.

Jenkins caught 90 passes for 1,276 yards in his senior season with the Illinois Fighting Illini, but he was only targeted once in 2012. The wide receiver ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the 2012 NFL Combine, and he also posted a remarkable 38.5″ vertical leap. Jenkins trained and lived with Kaepernick this offseason, and it would be reasonable to assume that the two will continue to work together to develop good chemistry.

The two have the potential to become a dominant duo. Jenkins caught a pass of at least 20 yards in 10 of his 13 games in 2011, and he caught six passes for 182 yards and 12 for 268 yards in back-t0-back games with the Fighting Illini. Jenkins can take over a game, which is exactly what the 49ers need.

General manager Trent Baalke said that Jenkins has the work ethic to succeed, which is a key component to, well, success. Jenkins produced in college, and everything is set up for him to step up right now. Illinois didn’t have a star quarterback when Jenkins was there, but he still managed to produce and catch San Francisco’s eye.

San Francisco spent its 2012 first-round draft pick on Jenkins, and he knows that the organization thinks he can become a key asset to the offense. Kaepernick and Jenkins can definitely click, as they lived together for two months this offseason. After bulking up a bit, learning from Boldin and soaking up all of the action from the sidelines in his rookie year, Jenkins is ready to break out.

And unless he suffers the same fate as Crabtree, there’s no reason to believe that Jenkins can’t rise to the occasion.