The San Francisco 49ers exchanged one bust for another this morning.
The team announced that wide receiver A.J. Jenkins – a first-round pick in 2012 – has been traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, himself and underachieving first-rounder from 2011.
Selecting the speedy Jenkins at 30th overall was questioned from the minute it happened. Most had him pegged for later rounds, but a breakout senior year at Illinois and a strong showing in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl made him look like a steal.
Yet the 49ers quickly found out Jenkins was behind where they thought he was and kept him inactive for much of the season. When he was on the field, fans wished he wasn’t.
Underweight, lacking confidence and seemingly every other tangible needed to be an NFL player, coaches and teammates had to painfully defend his ineptitude during interviews. Now they don’t.
General manager Trent Baalke simply wished Jenkins well in today’s press release:
“We would like to thank A.J. for his efforts as a member of the 49ers and wish him all the best with the Kansas City Chiefs. We are pleased to add Jonathan to our team and look forward to incorporating him into our offense. Both players have been presented a great opportunity for a new beginning with their respective teams.”
Jenkins’ locker now goes to Baldwin (6-4, 230), the former 26th overall selection out of Pittsburgh. He was supposed to be the Chiefs No. 2 wideout, but has started just 9-of-26 career games, hauling in a total of 41 receptions for 579 yards and two touchdowns.
Baldwin notably missed several games his rookie year after injuring his hand in a locker room fight with running back Thomas Jones. He needs mentoring to harness his undeniable talent.
Baldwin can run (4.49) and leap (42-inch), but will be competing for essentially two open roster spots with Austin Collie, Lavelle Hawkins, Kassim Osgood, Chad Hall, Ricardo Lockette, and Chuck Jacobs when he takes the practice field for the first time tomorrow.
Anquan Boldin, Marlon Moore, Kyle Williams, and Quinton Patton are already assured jobs.
Neither Jenkins nor Baldwin has looked the part of a starter this preseason. So for now, today’s deal is good swap for bad picks.