San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh still defending former 49ers receiver A.J. Jenkins
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh is still coming to former 49ers receiver A.J. Jenkins' defense.
Harbaugh took the opportunity Wednesday to once again criticize those who criticized Jenkins, the 2012 first-round pick who underachieved in his one-plus season with San Francisco.
Asked a question Wednesday about Jon Baldwin, the receiver the 49ers acquired from Kansas City on Monday in exchange for Jenkins, Harbaugh weaved Jenkins into the discussion.
"I don't think it's fair to bully or label a young player, though I fully understand that people are entitled to their opinion and perspective," Harbaugh said. "However, I prefer the criticism — I'd appreciate — if the criticism is directed toward me. I'm responsible, and I certainly accept it. Actually, welcome it."
Jenkins, the 30th overall pick in 2012, appeared in three games last season and didn't have a single catch. With the injury to Michael Crabtree, Jenkins was viewed as a leading candidate to start at receiver this season opposite Anquan Boldin, but he hardly distinguished himself through the early portion of training camp and two exhibitions.
Harbaugh was asked to clarify what he felt responsible for in relation to the media criticism directed at Jenkins.
"I'm responsible for helping pick the draft picks, fully responsible for coaching the players up, and I willingly accept those responsibilities," Harbaugh said.
In July 2012, Harbaugh called out as "clueless" those who predicted Jenkins would be a bust before he even played in a preseason game.
Referencing the fact that Baldwin, a 2011 first-round pick of the Chiefs, has been scrutinized himself as an underachiever, Harbaugh said: "I know a lot of people have kind of made some sport of A.J. and Jonathan, and my comments and that type of thing. I feel the same as I did a year ago when I made those comments."
The 49ers have some important decisions to make regarding the receivers currently on their roster.
They're still trying to identify the No. 2 receiver alongside Boldin, though Marlon Moore and Kyle Williams appear to be front-runners. Moore, the fourth-year veteran who signed as a free agent in the offseason, in particular has helped his cause.
He's started the first two exhibitions and has earned Harbaugh's praise.
"There's the physical and the mentality, you need both," Harbaugh said. "He's definitely a talented player physically, also tough mentally. Those things are a very good combination." Moore said he's just trying to prove he deserves playing time.
"Complacency is death, man," Moore said. "The moment you think you have a spot or any kind of position, that's when your output declines."
Harbaugh mentioned Austin Collie, Lavelle Hawkins and Baldwin as receivers who could take over some of the snaps that Jenkins was getting in games.