The San Francisco 49ers drafted former Illinois wide receiver AJ Jenkins in the first round of the NFL Draft last year, and the selection never panned out. Jenkins never caught a pass in a regular season game for the Niners and was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday for receiver Jon Baldwin.
At this point, it is safe to label Jenkins a draft bust. Last year during training camp, Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh blasted the media for criticizing Jenkins when he was not performing well in practice. In retrospect, it appears the writers and reporters were accurate with their assessment of Jenkins. Despite that, Harbaugh continued to defend the 23-year-old after trading him.
“I know a lot of people made sport of AJ and Jonathan and my comments and that type of thing,” he said Wednesday, per Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “And I really feel the same as I did a year ago when I made those comments. I don’t think it’s fair to bully or label a young player. I fully understand people are entitled to their opinion and their perspective, however, I refer the criticism — or appreciate — if the criticism is directed toward me. I’m responsible and I certainly accept it.”
Obviously, Harbaugh and the entire San Francisco organization are disappointed that they spent a first-round pick on a player who never worked out. But as Harbaugh has shown us in the past with his animated defense of Alex Smith, he is rarely ever going to throw a player under the bus.
“I’m responsible. I’m responsible for helping pick the draft picks and fully responsible for coaching the players up,” he said. “So I willingly accept those responsibilities.”
Baldwin, also a first-round pick in 2011, caught 41 passes for 579 yards and two touchdowns during his two seasons with the Chiefs. A change of scenery could benefit both players.