Harbaugh on A.J. Jenkins: “I don’t think it’s fair to bully or label a young player.”

SANTA CLARA – Jim Harbaugh spoke in the media tent Wednesday afternoon. Here’s what he said.

Q: Jon Baldwin practiced yesterday. What was your initial reaction to him and how he’s fitting in?

HARBAUGH: Just one day, but good so far.

Q: Can you tell what skills he has and how he could potentially fit into your offense?

HARBAUGH: I think most people can. He’s somebody with great athletic ability. He already has a résumé. Very good.

Q: Is two weeks enough time to evaluate him or are you going to have to assume some things with him when you get to the cuts?

HARBAUGH: I think we do (have enough time). Sometimes there are players who are traded in the middle of the season after six or seven games and they get up to speed.

Q: Will B.J. Daniels be the No.2 quarterback against the Vikings this Sunday?

HARBAUGH: I think it will be Colt.

Q: And then Daniels third or fourth?

HARBAUGH: Yes.

Q: Which one?

HARBAUGH: We’ll make that decision.

Q: What do you like about Marlon Moore?

HARBAUGH: He’s doing a very good job and he’s worked extremely hard this entire offseason. He’s got very good production in training camp. He’s been very positive.

Q: Is there something about Moore’s mentality you like to see in a football player?

HARBAUGH: Yes. There’s the physical and the mentality. That’s a great word that you used. You need both. He’s a talented player physically. He’s also tough mentally. Those things are very good combinations.

ME: Why was Colin Kaepernick wearing a black jersey yesterday in practice?

HARBAUGH: There was a play the day before where we were going against our Ones and I felt like as the defense was running a stunt, Ahmad came free and was a little too close to Colin. So, a way to reemphasize, “Stay away from Colin Kaepernick” so we don’t get anything freakish happen in practice.

Q: Is B.J. Daniels getting fewer reps at running back and wide receiver? Is he focused now on quarterback?

HARBAUGH: Offensively, it’s been strictly quarterback as of late but he’s still taking special teams reps.

Q: When A.J. Jenkins, he got a lot of snaps in these preseason games. Who’s going to fill that void now in this upcoming game?

HARBAUGH: There are a lot of options there. I’ve been really impressed with our receiving group, the way they practice, they way they perform. Any number of guys will be getting those reps – Collie, Hawkins, Baldwin, Hall, Lockette. Probably missing a few.

Q: Three of those guys you mentioned – Collie, Hawkins and Baldwin – obviously haven’t been here as long as the others. Do you feel the need to get those guys as many reps as possible just to get enough analysis of them?

HARBAUGH: I sure would like to, and they’re very competitive guys. They want them. There are quite a few receivers we have who are healthy and champing at the bit to get them. Hopefully, that works out that way this week that our receivers all get a real good look.

Q: Is Baldwin familiar enough with the terminology that you could plug him in on Sunday? Do you expect him to play Sunday?

HARBAUGH: I expect him to play Sunday.

Q: On paper, McCoy’s numbers in preseason don’t look good. How much of that is him still learning the system?

HARBAUGH: It’s definitely a factor. Good improvement this week. He’s working at it very hard. It means a lot to him and it does to us, too. We’re coaching him up the best we can. Keep striving for improvement each day.

Q: How much have you seen from Nnamdi Asomugha?

HARBAUGH: What I’ve seen is talent, improvement, it means a lot to him. He’s an ascending, improving player since he’s been here on our roster, and that’s extremely positive.

Q: Ian Williams has gone from an undrafted free agent to possibly your starting nose tackle. What has he done to exceed your expectations?

HARBAUGH: Exceed our expectations? He’s doing a great job. He’s very athletic and he’s very strong. There are some nose tackles who are bigger than Ian, but he makes up for it with a lot of heart and speed and quickness and athletic ability. His growth continues weekly. We’re seeing really good things from the starting of this offseason, from the start of this camp when we put the pads on, things that we had seen in the past but getting better. We’re very excited about it.

We’re very excited about Glenn Dorsey as well. A proven football player, got a very good track record. And here’s Ian Williams playing right there with him. In our opinion, both of those guys really shore us up inside at the nose tackle position.

Q: With Demarcus Dobbs out for Week 1, do you start giving Williams and Dorsey practice reps at end?

HARBAUGH: I was just thinking about something else, could you repeat the question?

Q: (Repeats it).

HARBAUGH: That’s a possibility. We’ve got some pretty good ends, too. There’s Tony Jerod-Eddie who’s doing a really good job in battling for a spot on the team. Will Tukuafu as well. That competition rages on as well. Will both of them make it? Will only one make it? It’s real competitive there.

Q: Do you feel like Kendall Hunter needs to play in the preseason?

HARBAUGH: Yes. Kendall is ready to go. Our medical staff and strength staff cleared Kendall. He’s been back in action at practice. When you dive back into the action, your senses and instincts come back. He appears to have that.

Q: Is Vance McDonald someone you hope to see or expect to see play in the next preseason game?

HARBAUGH: Yes. Vance was back practicing yesterday. Looked good. Didn’t look like he had any lingering effects from what kept him out, but a little rust. There was a little rust there from being out seven to ten days. Definitely expect him in the game this week.

Q: Was it a hamstring that kept him out?

HARBAUGH: He was working through something.

Q: Do you expect Kendall Hunter to play on Sunday?

HARBAUGH: Yes, we expect Kendall to play on Sunday.

Q: Could Baldwin win the No.2 receiver job by Week 1 of the regular season given how short of a time he’s been here?

HARBAUGH: Anything is possible. There are some guys with a little bit of a head start, now. We’re talking about what’s possible. Kyle Williams, Marlon Moore have a bit of a head start in that regard, but we’ll take it day-to-day. Excited about Jonathan being out there again in today’s practice. Feel like he’s got a heck of an opportunity.

Real excited for both Jonathan Baldwin and A.J. Jenkins. I know a lot of people have been making some sport of A.J. and Jonathan and my comments and that type of thing. I 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 that people are entitled to their opinion and their perspective, however I prefer that the criticism – I would appreciate that the criticism was directed toward me. I’m responsible and I certainly accept that. Actually, welcome it.

Q: You said people who said Jenkins wasn’t going to be a great receiver were “clueless.” Do you regret saying that?

HARBAUGH: Like I just said, of course I’m going to defend a young player when I believe he’s being bullied or labeled before even his first practice.

Q: You thought Jenkins was being bullied?

HARBAUGH: Yes. And labeled, yes.

Q: You said you’re responsible. What are you responsible for?

HARBAUGH: I’m responsible for helping pick the draft picks and fully responsible for coaching the players up. I willingly accept those responsibilities.

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  1. Say what you want about Harbaugh, he defends his players to the fullest and will accept his mistakes without backing down. No wonder (from what I’ve read) every player respects him. His arrow is pointing up.

    1. I like how Harbaugh deals with the press. Yes I’d like to get more info, but I’ll trade that for loyalty and winning.

  2. Harbaugh and Baalke are responsible for what happened with AJ. They reached in the first round to get a player that doesn’t fit their scheme. Then didn’t adjust the scheme to fit what AJ does well. The trade for Baldwin helps.

    Funny how draft position makes all the difference. Imagine if Jenkins was a 5th round pick.

    1. Didn’t adjust? Harbaugh had Jenkins run a ton of drags and short hitches and he still couldn’t produce.

      1. Exactly Affp. Where was he lined up? How many times was he given an opportunity for a free release?

      2. AFFP,

        Broncos game:

        lines up at X, runs a drag, never turns his head and the pass zips right by him.

        lines up at X, runs a quick hitch, catches it, and then fumbles it.

        lines up at x, runs a deep route, ball is overthrown interception.

        Go back to last year when he got his one target in a regular season game, and what route was he running? That’s right, a drag just like he had done repeatedly at Illinois. They tried to have him do things he was familiar with.

        And who cares any longer? He’s now KC’s problem.

        I like how Harbaugh handled it and took responsibility for Jenkins’ failures here. That’s something any good leader would do.

      3. it just seemed absurd to line up a guy that can’t beat the jam at Split End. as I said in an earlier post it’s like asking LaMichael James to line up at Fullback to lead block.

        the initial scouting reports listed Jenkins as a probable X and Slot guy. That’s because even though the Flanker gets a cleaner release, his patterns aren’t usually as deep and are usually combos with TE and have to deal with contact from corners, safeties and linebackers.

        Route running skills can compensate for lack of size for beating the press and avoiding contact in coverage. I don’t know why Jenkins never figured it out.

        I know they had him run drag routes all day.

        Jenkins had no problems with the middle of the field in college. it’s not like he was running go routes at Illinois. again, he has the quickness to be a step or two ahead of the coverage and to run away from defenders. there’s just something mental going on with him and trying to learn the craft of being an NFL receiver.

        btw. funny thing. I was at the gym last night and they had the NFL Network rebroadcasting the 49er/Chiefs game. First play I saw was Alex Smith bounce a pass off of Baldwin’s numbers on a slant. Baldwin needs to learn to catch the ball with his hands. he needs to spend sometime with Jerry Rice catching bricks.

        1. If Jenkins catches the ball over the middle, he goes down right away. He did that in college too. He’s afraid of the hits. On drag routes, he usually catches it outside the numbers.

      4. outside the numbers on a drag route? that’s pretty early in a drag route’s progression.

        out of curiosity, what receiver position did Jenkins play in college?

        1. The other numbers. He crosses the middle and catches it as he crosses the numbers. Did it a lot in college, where he played X and Z.

    2. i went back and looked at some of his college film. he may have lined up at X and Y (kind of hard to tell unless you stop and analyze the formations) but regardless I don’t think I saw him contested once at line of scrimmage. I did see him line up in the backfield and run a route. and he did make some plays in the middle. you’re right he mostly isn’t a tackle breaking threat but he did fight for balls in underneath coverage. he did make some deep plays where he simply ate up the corner’s cushion and then ran by him with speed. but an NFL corner isn’t going to let him do that as easily…he’d have to set up the corner with a move and then blow by him.

      i still think Jenkins could become an underneath slot or motion receiver.

  3. Dude – Agree, nice to see Harbs taking some responsibility for Jenkins lack of development.
    For some reason Harbs still won’t give any details about the Vance McDonald injury. Maybe its something embarrassing? Extreme hemroids or a bladder problem? Yeah, I’d rather not know if that’s the case.

    1. Harbaugh never gives one iota of information on injuries more than the league requires. In preseason, if he doesn’t have to give the media or the public a clue as to what an injury is, he won’t. Haven’t you paid any attention to Harbaugh in the past?

  4. “I know a lot of people having been making some sport of AJ and Jonathon and my comments and that type of thing.”
    STAN-he’s on to you too now, Bub!

  5. I thought Grant’s criticism of McCoy and Tolzien was unfairly harsh. Especially since they went up against much of the Chiefs #1s and 2′s with the Niner’s back ups and practice squad players.

    But apparently the Niners share Grant’s view of the back up QB situation to a certain degree as it’s been reported that they are interested in recently released QB Seneca Wallace.

    1. I agree AFFP, Grant was unfairly harsh regarding McCoy and Tolzien. What did he expect? They were stuck with Jenkins the first 2 weeks. (Stole that one from Kevin Lynch)

      1. eh, my point was that the Niners seem still be exploring more possibilities at the back up QB position…meaning they still aren’t satisfied with what they have.

        I was trying to throw Grant a bone.

    2. Hmmm, and Wallace is the same size as Russell Wilson. Could mean the PS or worse for Daniels if they sign Wallace.

    3. Wallace actually makes some sense if they are unhappy with McCoy and Tolzien. That would give them 3 mobile QB’s who could run essentially the same plays if needed.

      1. Wallace is also experienced and knows a couple of West Coast Offense flavors…so the Niner’s offense wouldn’t be completely foreign to him. Plus he may have some nice intel on the Seahawks.

    4. “He’s a mobile, veterany guy…the joke at FG is that he’s a guy that will add mobility and always give you a two yard loss on a scramble…or something along those lines..he always used to run out of bounds for a loss…that was his legacy…The thing about him though is that he’s mobile and has a strong arm…he provides value because he can escape pressure and get out of the pocket if need be…tell him to dump it off to your skill position guys – he’s a game manager.”

    5. I am wondering if their is another clue in there as to a drop in confidence in the two backup QBs. I was struck by Coach Harbaugh’s explanation for the black jerzey “..stay away from Colin..” Maybe I am off the mark, but to me that says keep him healthy to the enth deg because we don’t trust the backup(s).

      Watch for Daniels to get a lot more play time at QB. I hope they will stop messing around with him at other positions at least for the time being cause they need a backup QB. 100% focus Daniels on QB right now and see what happens. Nothing to loose / much to gain.

      1. Yeah, I was jumping to similar conclusions. Just the interest in Wallace suggests unsettled situation. Hmmm…..How’s Marquis Gray’s footwork and throwing motion? (After ROK’s thread I dare not ask about his ball handling skills.)

  6. I thought I read an article last year that featured Jenkins’ father talking about his son needing to mature or take things seriously. But with the new rookie contracts, rooks need to produce sooner, not like it was 10, 15, 20 years ago. Can’t wait for the AJs of the world to figure it out.

    1. Actually, with the new rookie cap, there is less pressure for them to produce right away, especially late 1st round picks. Teams can take more chances on 1st round picks than they did just a few years ago when some of their contracts were exceeding proven veteran contracts. Even though the 49ers took a little cap hit with Jenkins, it is nothing like what was going on before the rookie cap. 49ers probably wouldn’t have done this trade back then.

  7. It will be interesting to see how Baldwin handles Kap’s balls when he didn’t even handle Smith’s balls well. At running back, I hope Hunter to get back to normal cause I don’t trust La Michael James to handle the load. LMJ doesn’t have enough speed to compensate for his inability to break tackles. I’m disappointed in Jewel Hampton, I thought he’d be better from looking at his college tape.

    1. 49ers Rok,

      You think Hunter can handle load created when Frank get’s off the field better than James?

    2. If this thread keeps growing I predict the first public use of the word ‘Salacious’ since the Clinton Administration.
      (PC Police Alert: it’s a joke)

    1. It is going to be difficult to find a decent QB for a good fit at backup out there even after the final cut. Coaching needs to focus efforts on Daniels to see if this diamond can be polished …. very quickly. I say give him a whole lot of play time in the game on Sunday.

    2. I would pick Wallace over Scott and Cody. Where is Josh Johnson these days? or maybe we can make a trade with Philly!

      1. Josh is the backup to Dalton in Cinncinati. He has played extremely well in the preseason this year. JH made a big mistake cutting him last year. He clearly is an upgrade over everything we have on this roster now. I just hope Daniels can step up and win the backup job. McCoy and Tolzein are stiffs.

      2. Only problem is preseason play means jack! The other problem is JJ could only read vanilla defenses which most teams run in the warm up season against guys trying to make a NFL roster.

      3. >>Where is Josh Johnson these days

        If you’ve been watching “hard knocks”, you’d see Josh has had the Cincy coaches shaking their heads over his bonehead play.

      4. yeah, at first I was amazed that the Niners didn’t go after Josh Johnson as a back up in the off season. He knows the offense and he’s as mobile as Kaepernick.

        But after watching “Hard Knocks” the Bengals coaches kept saying Johnson couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn; “never saw so many incompletions”. Remember that in the West Coast Offense the primary attribute of a QB is accuracy above arm strength and even mobility. So I’m guessing that Johnson’s accuracy issues were a reason why the Niners didn’t pursue him.

        Johnson’s only saving grace was that he already knew the offense from his time in Tampa (under Jay Gruden) but he’s in for a battle with John Skelton.

      5. Josh Johnson is not the answer and never was. He’s no better than the guys they have now. He played well in one preseason game last year which happened to be the 4th where it’s a battle of the scrubs.

  8. I have tremendous respect for Jim Harbaugh and Trent B. What a class act management team. The media did bully Jenkins and Jim stood beside him and when they figured he was not the right fit for the this team they traded him very professionally to another team. Do you remember the Coach Mike S era? what a difference. Go Niners

  9. AJ had shown in college he was sensitive to criticism. Reporters are sensitive to not having a story approaching deadline. They circle the prey like a pack of wolves. Harbaugh snapped at them and they are whining. Good for him. See he knows football. The press writes about it. Not even close.k

    1. The media and most of the contributors to blogs and forums like this one – in fact, most fans – have a tendency to make fun of people who are doing their best but aren’t quite cutting it. They take delight in laughing at and doing their best to humiliate players who aren’t quite up to snuff – but – let’s face it – are athletically light years ahead of almost everybody doing the criticizing. It’s a character flaw that’s very common nowadays and maybe always has been. Nothing wrong with commenting on a player’s mistakes or shortcomings, or expressing a respectful opinion as to their abilities, but as long as the player seems to be giving it everything they have, it’s not kosher to treat him like crap. Just remember that if you were out there trying to compete with that guy you’re criticizing, you’d look so incompetent and out of place that even good hearted players and coaches would be unable to suppress a chuckle.

      1. The problem is that A.J. Jenkins wasn’t giving it everything he had. Didn’t you read the comments from Vernon Davis? It’s disappointing to see a talented and physically gifted athlete waste away all that potential.

      2. Nick, if you read Vernon’s comments carefully, it’s not that Jenkins wasn’t “giving everything” from an effort football standpoint. On the field effort and in the classroom. It’s not that he’s dogging it in practice or anything.

        The way I interpret Vernon’s and some of Harbaugh’s comments is that that extra effort or step that Jenkins needed to give was not just effort but to put it all together…so to speak and cut loose and play. What I see from Jenkins is a guy that’s thinking too much from the time ball is snapped. He’s thinking about beating the press, thinking about the route, about the defender etc… all of that makes him a step slow in reacting and understanding things on the field and makes him appear timid too. Grant’s not wrong in that it looks like he shies away from contact. He may be thinking and hearing footsteps.

        To me that’s not an effort issue. It’s a mental/psych issue. To some if you just work him even harder and push through, he’ll break through the mental/psych barrier. But sometimes just pushing harder isn’t the solution and for the 49er’s it was time to move on. Maybe the Chiefs will have new and different approach that will reach him. If not Jenkins is a lost cause.

      3. I wish AJ Jenkins the best of luck in Kansas City. As the KC GM said when asked who won the trade, “at the end of the day the kids won.”

        As is always the case in football, the true answer to that question will be decided on the field.

      1. it would be funny if the Niner’s coaching staff had been giving Jenkins printed copies of your blog about him as motivation.

      2. You people need to see what Harbough is doing. This crap about bulling is just a form of censorship! Harbough knows exactly what he is doing by making that charge, he is manipulating the press/fans. This is killing the messnger to deflet your attention from his failure.

      3. What Harbaugh was doing was asking the media to place the burden of Jenkins’ failures on his shoulders, and taking responsibility. That’s what leaders do.

        The more I read Harbaugh’s remareks the less I think it had to do with Jenkins, and the more I think it had to do with Baldwin coming in. Part of this was also to deflect any negativity away from Baldwin. When the trade was made many said it was a trade of a bust for a bust. Harbaugh doesn’t want that lable on Baldwin. He want’s the player to eliminate the possibility of outside pressure as much as possible.

        Here is a clip that proves the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lp_DmsTCfHk#at=176

      4. Jack
        You make a good point here about the comments being for Baldwin’s benefit. Also, for the entire locker room, JH is saying ‘Yeah, I said that back then. I’ll support my guy 101%’.
        In a high school game one of my team mates on D was talking smack as the other team came to the line. He got under one guy’s skin and the guy came out of his stance and came across the LOS to challenge him. I stepped in front, we exchanged a couple of shoves and the Ref broke it up without any flags. After the game I went and shook the guy’s hand and told him I thought my DB had gone overboard, but that I’d always defend my troops. He gave me a hug and we played two more seasons against each other with respect.
        To me, that’s what Harbs was and is doing. Good golly, he never rolled on Chilo!

      5. I think JH struggles for words when trying to describe things sometimes, but it’s pretty clear his point was that he saw Jenkins getting singled out for negative press early on, didn’t like it, and went to his defense. It’s also pretty clear that he would do it again.

        Good points about how this relates to Baldwin Jack. Harbaugh seems to be cautiously excited about this kid. I hope they get him going because he’d be a great weapon at his size if the can rely on him to do what he’s supposed to.

      6. Hacksaw,

        This is killing the messnger to deflet your attention from his failure.

        He took responsibility for it yesterday. He didn’t try to deflect attention from anything.

  10. Jack,

    Harbaugh is in ,by choice, a performance based profession. If you perform you make it , if not your out. It has nothing to do with what the press or fans say.
    If a player fails by not performing, and that is what happened to Jenkins, a leader says it just did not work out. Blaming out side groups forJenkins or for that matter Baldwin, not performing is just BS. Saying after the fact that he takes responsibilty, Hmmmmm!

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