Lest you think giving up on his 2012 first-rounder before he caught an NFL pass was going to change Jim Harbaugh’s thinking, the 49ers coach was not ready to concede to the “so-called experts” who declared A.J. Jenkins a flop a year ago.
Harbaugh, like everyone else, invoked the “fresh start” both Jenkins and Jon Baldwin were getting after the 49ers and Chiefs traded disappointing former first-rounders.
But it was very different than Harbaugh’s initial volley at reports Jenkins wasn’t doing so well from a year ago.
“For those — the scribes, pundits, so-called experts — who have gone so far as to say that he’s going to be a bust, should just stop,” Harbaugh said on July 29, 2012, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “I recommend that because they’re making themselves look more clueless than they already did.
“I’ll go on record: A.J. is going to be an outstanding football player. So far in camp and what he’s done in the offseason has led us to believe nothing but he’ll be an outstanding football player in the National Football League.”
Harbaugh went back to his own experience going from Chicago to Indianapolis to defend the possibility that Jenkins might turn into something other than what he appears to be at the moment.
“A.J., the why, and that kind of thing, . . . I can speak from personal experience,” Harbaugh said. “I was rejected by a team, sent to another team, and with the next team, my signature years came. So it can be a real positive. That’s what everybody hopes for in this situation.
“A.J. is a very talented player. He’s never been an issue or a problem as a teammate. He competes. He works very hard. There’s no reason that both these guys can’t end up having a great career.”
From the moment the 49ers drafted Jenkins, he was viewed as an outlier, someone whose selection was so far off the normal projections that it drew notice, and criticism. In this case, however, the scribes and pundits weren’t the ones who ended up looking clueless at the end of the day, and the so-called experts were glad to sell for pennies on the dollar.