Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Jauan Jennings primed for bigger role with 49ers

Chris Beno
Nov 30, 2021 at 11:20 AM--

With the San Francisco 49ers' leading wide receiver Deebo Samuel out for 1-2 weeks with a groin strain, the door is open for other players to make an impact on offense. Through 11 games, Samuel became the first 49ers wide receiver to reach 1,000 yards receiving since Anquan Boldin in 2014.

Trying to replicate the level of production Samuel provided for the 49ers will be tough to do. However, there are a few players primed to make big impacts.

George Kittle is the low-hanging fruit in this discussion. While he has been limited in the receiving game this season with only 35 receptions for 425 yards and three scores, his impact has mainly been in the run game where he has become one of the premier downfield blockers in the NFL. Even with his dip in receiving production, his mere presence commands a lot of attention from defenders, often getting double covered in passing situations. Look for defenses to try and take Kittle out of the passing game.

Brandon Aiyuk is the next offensive player who should be primed for big games. Aiyuk famously started the season slow with one foot inside the infamous Kyle Shanahan doghouse. Since that slow start, Aiyuk turned things around. With his downfield blocking, crisp routes, and strong hands, Aiyuk has turned his season around. In the last four games, Aiyuk has amassed 291 receiving yards and two scores on 19 receptions. With Samuel out, Aiyuk will step into the number one receiver role and should command a lot of attention from opposing defenses.

The player I'm most interested in with Samuel out is second-year wide receiver Jauan Jennings. At 6-foot-3, Jennings has the size to make contested catches in traffic and in the red zone. In college, he was known for being difficult to tackle. As of late, head coach Kyle Shanahan has been targeting Jennings more throughout the games, trying to carve out a bigger role for the receiver. In week 12, Jennings recorded two receptions for 24 yards and a score. He was also inches away from coming down with his second touchdown on an impressive catch in the end zone before being called out of bounds after review.

In the week 11 game against the Jaguars, Jennings made some noise when he got into a scuffle with Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins. Jenkins was frustrated by Jennings' dominance in run blocking and threw a punch, ultimately leading to his disqualification from the game and a 15-yard penalty. Jennings received a lot of praise from Shanahan after that game.

"I just told him great job, now put your helmet on, which it took him too long to hear put your helmet on," Shanahan said after the game. "But I thought, from what I saw, he was competing as hard as you can compete on a run play and just playing through the whistle. And obviously, the other guy got upset with him and did some things to Jauan that I was a little worried about because Jauan gets very excited and I was just proud of him that he was able to keep his composure, especially after he got hit in the face with this helmet off. And for him not to retaliate because regardless of what happens, you're not allowed to hit someone back either.

"So, I was just proud of him for doing that and getting us a very important 15-yard penalty because we had just got stopped on third-and-three on the jet sweep. So, it was a huge play by him, and it was twice there in the red zone that he led to us getting first downs. Or really led to us getting points that didn't have much to do with him in the play. And that was the first time recovering the fumble that Jeff had, and the second time was he got that penalty."

Shanahan is known for rewarding his players who show toughness and grit in the game by trying to get them the ball more. Look for Jennings to have a significant impact going forward.

With the 49ers run game commanding the bulk of the attention from defenses who seem determined to load the box and force quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to throw the ball, look for other players to emerge as key contributors on offense.
  • Chris Beno
  • Written by:
    Coming from Elk Grove, California I grew up a Bay Area sports fan. I've been cheering for the 49ers for as long as I can remember. In 2005 I joined the Army when I was 18 and got stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. I just kind of hung around here. I've always enjoyed writing and have typically focused on writing music. I am truly blessed to get to cover the 49ers, and have my articles published on the 49ers Webzone. I didn't realize it was something I wanted to pursue as a career, but am now focused on doing just that. I appreciate all of the Faithful that take the time to read the articles people put out there.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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