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Photo by Kelley L. Cox of USA Today Sports

Photo by Kelley L. Cox of USA Today Sports

Assessing the A.J. Jenkins/Jonathan Baldwin Trade

Aug 19, 2013 at 11:11 AM

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Well, it finally happened. Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins is out of San Francisco and on his way to the Kansas City Chiefs, in exchange for another struggling receiver, Jonathan Baldwin. After a virtually non-existent rookie campaign and an offseason filled with headlines scrutinizing Jenkins' future with the 49ers, the move isn't all that surprising.

The similarities between Baldwin and Jenkins are interesting. Both were first-round selections, with Baldwin taken 26th overall in the 2011 draft and Jenkins taken at the 30th spot in the 2012 draft. Both had poor rookie seasons, albeit for vastly different reasons. Baldwin injured his wrist in a brawl with then-teammate Thomas Jones, while Jenkins sat buried in the depth chart – contributing nothing but a single dropped pass. And while Baldwin has had more success than Jenkins at this point in his career (41 catches, 579 yards, and a pair of touchdowns), neither receiver has lived up to expectations.

However, what's even more interesting is what each receiver presents to their new teams.

A change of scenery could do Jenkins' a world of good, especially at such an early stage in his career. Coach Andy Reid has likely made the trade in an effort to replicate something he had when he was coaching the Philadelphia Eagles: a little speedster named DeSean Jackson. While Jenkins hasn't proven himself as a reliable a target in the NFL, he does have speed – clocking a 4.37 40-yard dash at the combine. He is similar in build, weighing under 200 pounds and standing a little taller than Jackson at 6'0". Reid has always had a very successful passing attack, and might just be able to mold Jenkins into an effective contributor for the Chiefs.

Baldwin, meanwhile, could be a steal for the 49ers. He adds a big target to the team's receiving core, standing at 6'4" and weighing in at 230 pounds. One thing Jenkins failed to do in his two preseason games was separate from defenders. According to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, Jenkins has played 77 snaps, more than any 49er receiver this preseason, and has only caught the ball twice (one that he preceded to fumble, and another that was nullified by a penalty).

The 49ers have speed at the wide receiver position, even without Jenkins. Receivers like Kyle Williams, Chad Hall, and Marlon Moore have displayed good quickness, though they may not present the same straight-line speed that Jenkins possesses. Running a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, Baldwin isn't slow, but he isn't fast either. Regardless, his size allows him to compete for the ball. If he manages to develop any kind of rapport with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, he could become a great addition to the 49ers.

In the end, it's anyone's guess as to which wide receiver will be more effective this year, if at all. As a final consideration, here are both wide receiver's college stats, courtesy of ESPN's Stats and Information.

Jonathan Baldwin Stats
2008 18 404 22.4 60 3
2009 57 1111 19.5 79 8
2010 53 822 15.5 61 5

A.J. Jenkins Stats
2008 11 287 26.1 54 3
2009 10 123 12.3 30 1
2010 56 746 13.3 54 7
2011 90 1276 14.2 77 8

So what do you think? Which wide receiver will have a better 2013 season? What kind of numbers will they post?
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.


  • Hack
    9er coaches and locker room are their trump suit. If anybody can demonstrate and motivate on Baldwin it's Anquan and Vernon, big guys who actually go get the ball. AJ was going to be relegated to infrequent use in the slot. At least Baldwin is a true wideout.
    Aug 19, 2013 at 9:42 PM
  • Paul
    Niner is correct about 41-0 catches, but Baldwin has one more year. Jenkins must be getting out played by rookies. Sometime a change of place can help a player.
    Aug 19, 2013 at 12:37 PM
  • Niner
    Good riddance, truly Baalkes folly. 41 catches to 0...... We're already ahead. Unlike politics baalke may have laid egg 2 years ago ( Jacobs, looney, James, aj) but that doesn't mean I can't respect him as a good gm and man enough to dump this bum and move on. Watch Jon under Harbaugh and mentored by boldin blossom, he seems kinda mixed up but he doesn't have aj , I could care less.
    Aug 19, 2013 at 12:13 PM
  • ninersush
    neither. they will both suck and be out of the league by year end if not sooner. this reminds me of the trade we made w denver when we sent i think it was rumph and got a cb from them in return. both fizzled out soon. this more then anything saves us cap space next year. and it shows that the coaches and front office care about only 1 thing. WINNING! no ego here.
    Aug 19, 2013 at 11:45 AM
  • sfniner
    What are Baldwin's cap implications? Did we just dump our salary cap hit for Jenkins or does Baldwin also have a lot of garunteed money?
    Aug 19, 2013 at 11:41 AM
    Response: Good question sfniner. Here's something Yahoo! Sports reported on this morning: "...the 49ers will have dead money charges from Jenkins of $873,187 in 2013 and $1,746,374 in 2014. They remove Jenkins' $705,797 in 2013 base salary, and will no longer have to pay him the $1,727,391 in salary and any bonuses they would have otherwise owed him. In adding Baldwin, the 49ers will take on his $1,061,510 base salary in 2013, which is guaranteed. Beyond that, in 2014, Baldwin is owed $1,274,765 with a total cap charge of $1,404,765. The important thing to note is that none of the 2014 money is guaranteed. The 49ers have a lot of salary cap question marks in 2014 and beyond, so this creates some flexibility in that regard."
  • ftuber
    The question is, should Baldwin take up a roster spot over any of the other promising receivers who have a better grasp of the offense, on the sheer hope he can turn around a career that has been a disappointment for two years already? Yeah, he's big, but so far, he hasn't really used that to his advantage and there are claims he has no heart; hard to change that.
    Aug 19, 2013 at 11:32 AM
  • moose
    At least Baldwin has made some good plays,albeit few and far between.Can he block?also,what is the cap ramnifications.I think the niners got the better deal.We shall see. Peace
    Aug 19, 2013 at 11:31 AM

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