Well, that escalated quickly.

After a disappointing rookie year and an underwhelming preseason, the 49ers traded the embattled A.J. Jenkins to the Kansas City Chiefs for wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin.

"We are pleased to add Jonathan to our team and look forward to incorporating him into our offense," said general manager Trent Baalke through a statement.


There are a couple of different angles to look at here. The first is the 49ers willingness to part ways with their former first round pick before he even began his second season. That alone speaks volumes to what the team actually thought of Jenkins. For all of the strengths the 49ers have, wide receiver is not one of them at the moment. They may have quantity at the position but it's unknown how much quality is actually there.

Rumors had been swirling that Jenkins was falling out of favor after his lack luster performance against the Denver Broncos, but it seemed like a long shot that the 49ers would actually pull the trigger on unloading him. This is where Trent Baalke deserves credit. Cutting ties with a first round pick after just one season isn't exactly common place. It's an admission of failure by a general manager and most around the league would be hesitant to make such a bold move. But Baalke has built an outstanding track record in a short amount of time. That history allows him to make a move like this and not be scrutinized. Draft picks like Mike Iupati, Anthony Davis, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith and Colin Kaepernick more than make up for one swing and miss (albeit a big one).

The other angle here is Jonathan Baldwin himself. Baldwin, the 26th overall pick in the 2011 draft, has 41 receptions for 579 yards and two touchdowns during his career with the Chiefs (If you're keeping count at home, that is 41 receptions, 579 yards and two touchdowns more than Jenkins). Those numbers are not what you would call prolific but the Chiefs passing game hasn't exactly been explosive the past two seasons. His quarterbacks over that time were Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko, Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn.

Baldwin could be another boon for the 49ers offense. The receiver stands at 6'4 and weighs 240 pounds. He ran a 4.49 40 yard dash and has a 42 inch vertical leap. Considering those physical tools, and at only 24 years old, he still has time to develop. NFL Films guru Greg Cosell recently compared him to Vincent Jackson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"When I watched him on film coming out of Pitt, he looked like he could be a Vincent Jackson-type receiver," said Cosell. "He's a big, physical kid who moves well."


Baldwin has shown some big play ability, averaging 16.3 yards per catch last season. He will have to get up to speed with the 49ers quickly, and should see action as soon as the next preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. It's unknown how much of an impact he can make initially, as he is coming into a new offensive system.

The 49ers do have some certainties at wide receiver at the moment. Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, Marlon Moore, and rookie Quinton Patton all are or look like locks to make the roster. Assuming the team keeps six wide outs, that leaves room for two more. Baldwin, barring a disaster, has a an excellent shot to fill one of the remaining slots and has the talent to eventually become a playmaker in San Francisco.

On the other side, could this trade serve as a wake up call for Jenkins and motivate him to be the player the 49ers thought he would be initially? It could. He may end up being a very good receiver in Kansas City. For whatever reason though, it was doubtful that was going to happen in San Francisco. Only time will give us the answers on how this bold move by the 49ers will play out, but it looks like a move that had to happen for the team to move forward.