When the 49ers drafted A.J. Jenkins in the first round and LaMichael James in the second round, all we heard was how the 49ers didn’t need those guys this season. The 49ers are so deep and talented, those two high draft picks could afford to “red shirt” their rookie seasons, just lift weights and learn the system.
Forget all of that. The 49ers need Jenkins and James right now.
James especially. The 49ers lost Kendall Hunter for the season, and now they lack a running back with outside speed. Decent defenses can shut down Frank Gore and Brandon Jacobs by playing them to run between the tackles. That’s what the Rams did on Sunday.
The 49ers best outside runner is currently their quarterback – Colin Kaepernick. That’s not enough.
LaMichael James is fast. He needs to replace Hunter’s production immediately, or the 49ers are in trouble.
Also, Mario Manningham left the Rams game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return. If he can’t play against the Dolphins next week, A.J. Jenkins needs to step up.
Without Manningam, the 49ers have one good wide receiver – Michael Crabtree. Randy Moss is a shell of his former self, and Ted Ginn Jr. is one of the worst wide receivers in the NFL. In fact, it’s a stretch to even call him a wide receiver. He’s a return specialist.
A.J. Jenkins should be better than Moss and Ginn right now. If Jenkins is not, the 49ers have more trouble.
You cannot afford to draft a redshirt class in today’s NFL, no matter how deep you think your team is. Injuries always happen, and you need rookies who can step in and contribute.
If Jenkins and James are not ready to contribute, Trent Baalke did the 49ers a disservice by drafting them. There were plenty of wide receivers he could have drafted who could help the 49ers win the Super Bowl this season – Chris Givens, Rueben Randle, Mohamed Sanu, T.Y Hilton, etc.
There were also running backs available who are producing right now – Doug Martin, David Wilson, Alfred Morris, Daryl Richardson, etc.
James and Jenkins need to contribute.