Thanks to having no significant amount of injuries, the 49ers are able to redshirt almost their entire draft class.
That’s not by plan, since no one ever plans on being healthy.
But the way it’s worked out, neither first-round wide receiver A.J. Jenkins nor second-round running back LaMichael James has played a snap. Jenkins got a uniform for the opener but didn’t play, while James has yet to be active.
“They’re working hard, doing it with a very good attitude,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “And it’s just the same thing we tell them – work hard, have a great attitude, and you’ll get it. And they’ll get their opportunity.”
It hasn’t always been that way. In 2010, first-round rookie offensive linemen Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati started every game. Last year’s first rounder, Aldon Smith, played a huge role as a pass-rusher, even though he didn’t start.
But Jenkins is stuck behind Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Kyle Williams, Randy Moss and Ted Ginn, leaving few snaps. James is behind Frank Gore, Hunter, Anthony Dixon and Brandon Jacobs on the depth chart, and the fact a veteran free agent pickup like Jacobs can’t get in a game explains James’ inactivity.
The only draft pick who has appeared in a game is sixth-round safety Trenton Robinson, and he’s been inactive the last five games after getting some special teams snaps.
The 49ers can afford it because they were already good, and they’ve stayed healthy. Most teams don’t have that luxury, and we’ll find out in a few years or when they have to play if they were good picks or not, or whether the resources would have been better allocated elsewhere.