The A.J. Jenkins watch in San Francisco is over. A new one is set to start in Kansas City.
The 49ers announced Monday that they have traded Jenkins to the Chiefs in exchange for wide receiver Jon Baldwin. This is a rare one-for-one NFL talent swap of players who failed to live up to expectations.
“Feel like it’s a fresh start for both young men,” 49ers coachJim Harbaugh told reporters Monday, “and hopefully it will be a possibility for both of them.”
It’s amazing how far Jenkins fell in San Francisco since being drafted in 2012. There were open questions about whether Jenkins would even make the 53-man roster. Chad Hall, among others, ran ahead of Jenkins in practice during training camp.
Seeing the Chiefs give up on Baldwin is even more surprising. The third-year pro was a first-round draft pick in 2011 by previous general manager Scott Pioli. Unlike Jenkins, Baldwin at least producedsomething at the pro level. (He had 579 yards over the last two years.) Earlier in camp, new coachAndy Reid mentioned Baldwin’s struggles to catch the football. Baldwin had a bad drop in Kansas City’s preseason game against San Francisco on Friday, but that didn’t dissuade the 49ers.
It’s worth noting that Baldwin’s salary is guaranteed in 2013. So the 49ers expect to have him on the roster, where they are desperately searching for someone to take snaps with wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham injured.
The 49ers need a vertical threat, and that’s Baldwin’s skill set. But let’s not make this trade into more than it is. It’s a swap of busts, and it would be a surprise if either player made a big impact on his new team.
By Gregg Rosenthal
Around The League Editor