Photo: Ed Szczepanski USA Today
We can play connect the dots when it comes to the trade that sent Chiefs receiver Jon Baldwin to the 49ers for receiver A.J. Jenkins, but that matters very little now. Kansas City has a talented young man who is going to get an opportunity to show his late bloomer college status wasn’t a fluke.
When Illinois Wide Receiver, A.J. Jenkins, burst onto the college scene two years ago, his draft stoke rose from a second round player to a first round talent. What happened to Jenkins the last year in San Francisco isn’t uncommon. For the most part, the majority of first round picks fail to live up to their lofty #1 status.
For Jenkins and his short stay in San Francisco, he was just drafted by the wrong team. The 49ers were a veteran team that just a year earlier played in the NFC Championship game. They were also semi- stacked at wide receiver and so he had to climb the veteran committee to get his shot on the field.
But he couldn’t crack the playing time threshold. For 13 games he didn’t get on the field. And when he did, the ball never touched his hands.
So what are the Chiefs really getting in Mr. Jenkins?
“I guess we’ll find out,” Jenkins said to the KC media on Tuesday.
Now to be fair his quote came off a different question but nonetheless it fits my context.
The Chiefs jettisoned Jon Baldwin because he wasn’t really a fit for KC’s new offense. Granted he wasn’t a fit the last two years in Kansas City but that matters very little now.
What does is how fast Jenkins can get up to speed and contribute. And like his former (and now current teammate) Quarterback, Alex Smith, he comes to the Chiefs after the 49ers gave up on him in just one NFL season.
And what does KC’s quarterback, think about his old teammate becoming a Chief?
”What I’m telling you guys. I thought he was a great teammate. I thought he worked really hard. He put the time in and he was a professional. He’s talented, he’s really fast. A guy with a lot of potential,” Smith said of Jenkins
So in the short time since the trade was announced, what does Jenkins really think about his old home and new his home?
“I don’t know. I mean, San Francisco drafted me. It’s a great team, a great city. I’m just looking forward to being a (Chiefs player) now. That’s what I’m looking forward to,” Jenkins said.
Let’s be honest those are pretty pat answers. But they are the correct ones.
But when pushed a little further on that topic, Jenkins did say, once he heard the news, he was getting out of San Francisco and heading to a new team, one closer to his Illinois roots, he seemed to like the idea very much.
“I was excited. It wasn’t really a phone call. It was a face-to-face when I heard the news, and I was like, ‘Ok. I can’t control what happens; all I can control is what I do on the football field.’ So I’m not going to worry about it,” he said.
And worry he won’t, he’s going to be a Chief the next two years. That’s because both his 2013 and 2014 contract years are guaranteed. So in other words, he’ll get the exact same time to blossom into a competent playmaking wide receiver as the Chiefs gave Jon Baldwin.
To make the transition even smoother, besides the fact he’s elated to be joining the Chiefs, Jenkins will get to work with the aforementioned Smith again. And from all accounts the two have a mutual respect and appreciation for one another.
“Alex and I were working out a lot together and talking a lot about offense, trying to get me up to speed on offense,” Jenkins said of his first NFL camp with Smith.
“It’s kind of like the same thing now. I mean he’s been here since the offseason, so now he can get me up to speed again with the playbook. We just keep on working and keep on doing what we do.”
Even though he’s been a Chief for just a day plus, Jenkins already seems to be well spoken, appreciative and a bit humble by his second chance in Kansas City. He seems confident. And that might be based on the fact, he’s an Academic All-American who is blessed with 4.3 NFL speed.
But all that aside, Jenkins has three weeks to get up to speed with Smith and company. And prior to practice on Tuesday, he really hadn’t had a chance to talk to his head coach, Andy Reid. So whatever expectations the man calling the shots has for Jenkins, they may not unfold until he gets on the field for a spell.
“I haven’t talked to him about that yet,” Jenkins said to the media in regards to his potential role in KC’s offense.
For now, Jenkins is an unknown quantity that has abilities, but they are definitively unproven. So he comes to the Chiefs, after barely getting an opportunity to show off his talents, to show what he can do if given the right set of circumstances.
In Kansas City, he’ll get that chance. But can he make the adjustment in three weeks from the 49ers playbook to the Chiefs playbook?
“I don’t have a choice. That’s what I have to work with,” Jenkins said about the short learning curve.
And with a preseason game Saturday night at Pittsburgh Steelers, and one less than a week later against the Green Bay Packers, we’re about to find out what the Chiefs have to work with in Jenkins.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Can A.J. Jenkins bring something to KC's offense?
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