San Francisco 49ers 2012 NFL Draft Review

AJ Jenkins

The San Francisco brain trust of General Manager Trent Baalke and Coach Jim Harbaugh had several players to choose from at the 30th overall pick. Options included a trade up to draft a former Harbaugh disciple David DeCastro. DeCastro would have given the 49ers the top guard tandem in the NFL. Another good Stanford-to-49er fit in a multiple tight end offense would have been Coby Fleener. Both players were bypassed, however, for speed receiver AJ Jenkins who would remind some evaluators of a young Marvin Harrison. The 49ers finished 29th in passing and 26th overall in offense. Jenkins’ big time speed and LaMichael James’ explosiveness give San Francisco a blend of speed, power, and playmaking ability. Free agent receiver acquisition Randy Moss and Mario Manningham plus the resigning of Ted Ginn should give opponents’ defensive coordinators plenty of sleepless nights. AJ Jenkins reportedly looked out of shape during the rookie mini-camp. The fact was that there were only three receivers in camp and he didn’t get a chance to catch his breath. Once OTAs started, Jenkins looked like the 30th pick in the draft. He is reported to be developing a quick rapport with Alex Smith. The Illini alum is sudden in and out of his cuts and snatches the ball over the middle with his quick and reactive hands. He will need to add more muscle and strength to hold up to an NFL season. LaMichael James brings versatility to the 49ers’ backfield. Expect him to be lined up as a change of pace running back, slot receiver, and as a kick and punt return specialist. His instant acceleration has been impressive in rookie mini-camp and OTAs. James is like a loaded gun ready to go off at any time. He is an elusive and creative runner who can avoid tacklers on the second and third levels. He has a good combination of speed and quickness. Joe Looney will battle to break into one of the top eight offensive line positions. He plays smart, strong, and aggressive with his hands. Looney is a competitor who works to sustain and finish both his run and pass blocks. He pulls and runs aggressively and demonstrates good contact and follow through. He takes good angles to cut off second level linebacker pursuit. Darius Fleming, in all probability, is out for the 2012 season after tearing his ACL during his first rookie mini-camp practice. He was scheduled to back up Ahmad Brooks at left outside linebacker. A three year starter at right defensive end, he is strong enough and has the speed to cover a tight end. A smart player, he has decent instincts. Trenton Robinson is a competitive safety who has the speed to overlap the corner on deep outside coverage. He plays big on run support, has good field awareness and instincts. Mentally and physically tough in his play, he has loose hips for a safety with the ability to turn and run. He is experienced in both man-to-man and in zone coverage. He should be a big time special teams’ contributor. Jason Slowey is a developmental center who will compete to get into the top eight offensive linemen. A crafty lineman, he must work to bend and keep his tail down as he has a tendency to play high. He will need work, as most rookies do, on pro physical and position skills. Cam Johnson played outside linebacker his first two years in the Virginia 3-4 scheme. The 49ers’ brass project him back to the same position where he’ll compete with Parys Haralson at the right outside linebacker spot. A three year starter, he has above average athletic ability. He will need to upgrade his strength and pro physical skills to play long term. In addition he will undergo a surgical clean out process on his knee, but will be ready by training camp in August. GRADE: ABOVE AVERAGE.

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