Vernon Davis on A.J. Jenkins: “When he comes to work, he’s got to be serious.”

SANTA CLARA – Vernon Davis spoke in the media tent Monday afternoon. Here’s what he said.

Q: How much has Colin Kaepernick developed this offseason?

VERNON DAVIS: Colin has come a long way. Last year when he first got the starting job, we would be in practice and he would overthrow me. I would be running as fast as I possibly could and Colin just kept overthrowing me. But now when we get out there, it’s like night and day. He’s putting the ball right there. Man, he’s come a long way. I’m very impressed with Colin right now.

Q: Is that a product of you guys working together and getting the timing down?

VERNON DAVIS: I think just getting the timing down because when you get a new quarterback and he steps in and he doesn’t really know his wide receivers that well, then it’s going to be a little off. You have to expect that. We’ve been working at this since OTAs and mini-camp. He’s definitely improved. I know the coaches have been working with him and getting him right, telling him about his throws and things like that.

Q: Other than Anquan, have you seen any of the wide receivers step up to the point where you feel like they could take some of the heat off of you?

VERNON DAVIS: I really like A.J. Jenkins. He has a lot of potential. He’s still learning the game. He told me yesterday, he was like, “Hey, I’m still learning.” I said, “I know, it will take time, just continue to work and get better.” I also explained to him that when he comes to work, he’s got to be serious. You’ve got to be serious about this. You can’t play. You’ve got to learn as much as can and get better and grow, not just as an athlete but as a person. He said, “Yeah, I understand.” He really wants to do well. He wants to succeed and I can see it. I can tell from the way he talks to me. I think he has all the potential to do it. It’s just taking him a little time, but I think he will get there and he will be prepared for the start of the season.

Q: Everybody grows at a different rate, why do you think it’s taken him this long to put it all together?

VERNON DAVIS: I think everybody is different. Last year was his rookie year. He’s got time. I don’t think we can rush him, because it’s up to him change his mindset and really take off. Not only change his mindset, but really grasp whatever it is the coaches are trying to give to him, whichever role it is, and just blossom. I think he’s got it in him, it’s just taking him a little time.

Q: What do you like about his game?

VERNON DAVIS: He’s smooth, he’s fast and he wants to succeed. Those are the three main things that jump out to me. It’s hard to find speed. We all know that. That’s something you just can’t walk into. You look at this team now, A.J. is one of the top-three fastest guys on the team. He’s definitely a tremendous asset to this team.

Q: Who are the other two?

VERNON DAVIS: Colin is extremely fast, and I would have to go with Frank Gore. Psyche, just kidding.

Q: What about you?

VERNON DAVIS: You could say that. I probably wouldn’t.

ME: You’ve had some big practices this offseason. I’ve noticed you beating man coverage, single coverage. During the regular season, you tend to face double and triple-coverage. Have the coaches been simulating that for you during practices this offseason?

VERNON DAVIS: I think with them playing me in different spots – I’m now playing Z, X, F, I’m all over the place. I’m everywhere. I think that kind of distracts our opponents from double and triple-teaming me. It’s a good thing that they’ve got me learning so much more because it helps in situations like that. And if they try to double and triple-team me, we have other answers. We have Anquan Boldin, Vance McDonald – he’s coming along, continuing to develop – A.J. Jenkins, once he takes off then we’ll be even better.

Q: Will it be strange to play against Alex Smith on Friday?

VERNON DAVIS: It’s business. I wish Alex the best. He’s going to do everything he can to be great, and I know that about him because I was his roommate the past two training camps. But we have to do what we have to do over here in order to get back to the Super Bowl. That’s all we play for, but it starts here. What we do today pretty much says it all.

Q: Have you talked with him recently?

VERNON DAVIS: No, I haven’t spoken with Alex. I want to stand back and let him do his own thing. I have enough to worry about over here.

Q: What’s your impression of Michael Wilhoite?

VERNON DAVIS: He’s impressive because for one, he’s athletic. And he competes. Discretely – I don’t think anyone really notices him or sometimes they don’t notice he’s there. I don’t know why, but that’s the feeling I get. He has some good skills. I’ve gone against him quite a few times. To me, going against linebackers, it’s really easy at times. But with him, I really have to approach him as if he’s a safety because he’s quick, he’s fast and he’s a tremendous athlete.

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    1. I have great respect for VD, he has become a true professional and a team leader. We are very lucky to have him on our team and his words of encouragement for AJ is very valuable and hopefully will promote future growth and improvement for the young WR. GO NINERS

      1. I have some hope now for AJ! if he sucked there is no way VD would just make up some bs about his ability. Now is all about if AJ is going to be able to put everything together.

  1. Rememeber Vernon out of school was a Atheletic Freak and yet he didn’t put it all together for several seasons… and now look at him. He has to be one of the hardest working players on the team. Jim Trotter from SI said he’s has never seen a bigger improvement in catching the ball from his 1st season to now about V.D. I think Jenkins being around this team… the light will go on and he will grow into the Pro that Vernon has.

    1. Good point. I don’t want to be a Jenkins deffender but how many of us were willing to get rid of Vernon after two seasons?

      1. Alligator hands… bad attitude… everyone was screaming to trade him and call him a bust. So annoying how trickle so many fans are. We Want It and WE WANT IT NOW!!! hahaha

      2. The difference was that Vernon Davis could block down field even if he couldn’t catch a cold in winter. AJ Jenkins doesn’t seem to have any contributions worth a roster spot other than cap ramifications.

    2. Well…other than Vernon wasnt beaten out by a practice squad player and made a few plays that showed his obvious raw tallent. I wouldn’t compare the two at all.

      1. Vernon at least knew the playbook. A year later, AJ still doesn’t know his plays. He looked lost on a couple of routes against the Broncos.

        The coaching staff should make AJ return punts and kick offs. Forget the WR stuff…if they are going to keep him around for another year, because of cap considerations, they should give him more responsibilities and put him the spotlight on him.

  2. What AJ needs is a big dose of “I want winners”, pants down in the loccer room crazy eyed stare and then rip you apart Singletary. Can they hire him from the Vikings for like one week and let him and AJ share a bunk? That will wake him up.

    1. HAHAHA!!

      As funny as it sounds I think you are right on!! Someone needs to kick him in his pants! Hopefully with theirs on this time :-)

  3. Last thing I want to say about AJ Jenkins. He has all the physical tools but if he does not have the work ethic and drive then it will never happen. If this is the case then it’s a shame. Maybe he needs a Vernon/Singeltary type confrontation. Whatever it is, he needs to snap out of it right chicken Louis!

    1. A Vernon/Singletary type confrontation might be what Jenkins needs, but will he get it from this coaching staff? When you read comments from Nnamdi Asomugha stating that this group of coaches don’t yell and curse when a player makes mistakes, it seems doubtful. For some players it takes more than being paid extremely well to be self-motivated, though we fans believe that should be enough. For some, they still need to have their facemask grabbed by a coach and pulled in so close that they can smell his bad breath and get told, “Make plays or you’re off the team!”

      1. The situation mimics Ocho Cinco and dare I say, Terrell Owens-darn shame all that talent and not enough sense to just shut his mouth.

      2. I think this coaching staff doesn’t have to yell because you simply won’t be on the team the next week. I used to think the old school coaching style of screaming was the best way. But now I realized that it’s all about what works best for your group of coaches and this coaching staff seems to get the job done without yelling (too much).

      3. Grant – Next presser please ask Harbaugh:
        Coach, back in 2008 Vernon Davis had a career-transforming moment when coach Singletary sent him to the locker room. Does A.J. Jenkins need a similar moment, a coach or a player to light a fire under him?

      4. We all want that light to click on. We want SOMETHING to catch AJs attention, but it doesn’t have to be yelling. Seriously, who exactly wants Sing back? C’mon.
        John Wooden was a pretty successful coach, and one revered by his players after they left the program for things they learned from him about life as well as athletics. John’s teams were highly disciplined, and yet Coach Wooden rarely raised his voice.
        Personally I’d respond well to a Tomsula-type approach, but these vets are grown men and may tire of an all-boot-camp-all-the-time style.
        Just do it, AJ, and shut us all the Hell up!

  4. VD has really matured into the player I had envisioned when drafted. If he believes in Jenkins, I’m a believer…

    Watching time go and feeling belief grow
    Rise above the obstacles.
    People beseech me but they will never teach me
    Things that I already know. (I know)
    Dreams that I have shattered may not have mattered
    Take another point of view.
    Doubts will arise like though chasing a rainbow
    I can tell a thing or two. (That’s true)
    You’ve got to believe in yourself or no one
    Will I believe in you
    Imagination like a bird on the wing
    Flying, free for you to use
    (OK baby).
    I can’t believe they stop and stare
    And point their fingers doubting me
    Their disbelief suppresses them
    But they’re not blind it’s just that they won’t see.
    I’m a believer, I ain’t no deceiver
    Mountains move before my eyes
    Destiny planned out I don’t need no handout
    Speculation of the wise.

  5. Love your question in there Grant. :-) Vernon is kidding himself if he thinks defences won’t be double and triple teaming him this season, regardless of where he lines up. I understand why the D wouldn’t be practising taking Vernon away – they have to get their own calls and assignments down that they’ll need in the season – but it would be good to get some reps in where they mark him heavily to get the offence used to it.

    Looks like the team is already making excuses why AJ doesn’t need to perform this year.

  6. Does Jenkins have any practice squad eligibility? If you put him on the practice squad is that the same as cutting him in terms of the cap hit? If someone takes him off the PS do they assume his contract? There has to be someway to get through to this guy that his job is on the line.

    1. 7×7:

      The only way to get Jenkins to the practice squad would be to cut him. If no one claims him for their 53 man roster, then the 49ers could place him on the PS. Whether or not he was claimed by another team, the 49ers would suffer the cap consequences that come from cutting him.

      1. I don’t think they can because of some complicated verbiage in the CBA for high draft picks. Ask Grant if they can or not.

    2. 7x7ers I’m going to try and answer your question. I obviously defer to anyone with a better understanding of the rules of the practice squad.

      The biggest hurdle with the practice squad is that AJ Jenkins is not a free agent. I believe that all practice squad players have to be free agents.

      Here is some information though for future reference on other practice squad players:

      In order to be eligible for the practice squad, players must meet one of the following requirements:

      •Have no prior Accrued Seasons in the NFL (An accrued season is six or more games on the active roster);
      •Have one prior Accrued Season in which the player was on the 45-man active roster for no more than 8 games;
      •If served two seasons on a practice squad, are eligible for a third season only if the team has at least 53 players on its active/inactive list for the duration of that player’s employment.

      In a round about way, Sf could cut AJ Jenkins then put him on their practice squad. This is ludicrous, but since I did all the research on eligibility, here’s how it would work. Any pay the team then decided to pay Jenkins would count against this year’s cap. (A double whammy as they’d have his current contract also on this year’s cap.) There is a league minimum that practice squad players have to be paid but no max.

      Billy Yates essentially went this route in New England. He was undrafted in 2003 and signed with the Dolphins. Then, he was released and signed to NE’s practice squad. He played in the Super Bowl and then went back to the practice squad two more times.

      1. Matt, the part this that is being left out is that if Jenkins were to be waived and subsequently passed waivers, he becomes a free agent. Technically, yes, he would then be eligible to be signed to the PS by the requirements you posted. But the thing is that once he is a free agent, he and his agent have the ability to shop his services to the other 31 teams to join their 53 which I guarantee would be their first move before considering signing with any team as a PS player. Why take PS money when even a one-year contract at minimum would pay more? Some team would sign him.

      2. Of course that is an option, but prior to writing that, I prefaced it with, “it would be ludicrous…” I think that disclaimer addresses any other options.

      3. Matt, yes, you did mention it would be “ludricous” to resign him to the PS while mentioning the “double-whammy” to the cap. But why would that exclude my mentioning of the fact that he would be a free-agent able to sign onto another team’s 53 player roster? Other comments were not mentioning that in this thread (including yours) started by 7×7 asking about Jenkins’ PS eligibilty. Though I mentioned you by name, it was meant for others posting and reading on this blog. Thanks for the response, however.

      4. Matt, it’s all good, thanks. It’s just funny that this Jenkins being put on the PS business seems to keep popping up. Personally, I see him playing for the 49ers this season. After that, who knows?

  7. Forgive me if I sound “football ignorant” but I don’t understand exactly what Vernon is trying to get across w/his comments. I have been a 49er fan for about 20 yrs. and don’t remember hearing as many excuses/explanations for a player’s lack of production as have been expressed about AJ. What does, “he has to be more serious, not play, when he is at practice” mean. This is his second year, he was a first round pick, and he is not serious Yet!! When he first arrived, Jerry Rice offered to “run the hill” w/him, and probably mentor him, but he wasn’t interested. I do believe he has the talent and the tools, but it appears as though he really was not prepared for the NFL and perhaps feels intimidated and very insecure. I hope he develops and becomes a great player…Very Soon.

    1. Its called leadership without damaging the young WO confidence!VD probably recognizes that AJ has all the tools to be great but probably is struggling to put everything together at the high level! Keep in mind AJ also struggled in College and almost left! So maybe he is trying to figure out how to grow up to become a great football player on the next stage and he has not totally adjusted yet.

  8. I could accept VD’s explanation/list of excuses about AJJ if he was a 6th round draft pick. The reasonable expectation is that a first rounder will be near NFL ready. The niners dont have the luxury of nursing him along for another year or two. We dont have an empty spot on the roster. Does anyone think actually think he is more deserving of a place on the team than Chad Hall , Marlon Moore, Patton or Lockette? To date his greatest accomplishment has been that he was open on 2 plays in the preseason game against the broncos, but not thrown to. Or to put it another way, because he wasn’t targeted he did not drop the usual 2-3 passes.

    F the cap space ramifications, let him go.

    1. I do not think he is more deserving than Patton, Hall, or Moore to remain on the team, but perhaps has more potential than Hall or Moore. I like Patton very much and believe he will contribute this year. Jenkins has a lot of potential but you are correct that he needs to step up this year.

  9. Wow. Vernon really has manned-up and become, at least to my outsider’s eyes, a true leader on the team. Awesome. I hope what I glean from this interview is correct: AJ just needs to grow up (immaturity issues) and learn how to work like a pro. I think he’ll get a pass this year regardless of his production due to his high draft status, but next year…? Not so much. C’mon kid. Get in the game.

    1. I’d agree. Teams almost never give up on a 1st round pick this early. Even Reggie McGrew, Rashaun Woods, Mike Rumph, etc. stuck around for at least two years.

      Heck, even Druckenmiller got two years.

    1. Good call EX, didnt most fans want AJ Hawk? who went the pick before to G.B? thank god we didnt get him, if we did, we might not have drafted Patrick Willis. VD took a while to develop, but he and PW were the cornerstones of what we have now.

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