San Francisco 49ers wide receiver A.J. Jenkins knows he’ll be under the microscope from day one this season. The teams first round pick in 2012, Jenkins struggled to even get on the field. When he did see action, he failed to make any kind of an impact. Jenkins did not record a catch and saw the only pass thrown his way bounce off his hands. If he is to have any kind of a future with the 49ers, he’ll have to show significant growth in his sophomore campaign.
“Obviously, I want to contribute a lot more than I have been.” said Jenkins. “So I’m going to make that happen and come back, bigger, faster, stronger.”
Jenkins has begun to the take the steps necessary to make that happen. He spent six weeks in Atlanta training with quarterback Colin Kaepernick and fellow wide out Ricardo Lockette. The trio focused on strength and speed training. Lockette, for one, believes Jenkins is about to turn a corner.
“I think A.J. will definitely surprise a lot of people this year. Last year, he took it as a building year. This year, from what I’ve seen so far, it’s night and day. I expect big things out of him. He expects big things out of himself and (Colin Kaepernick) expects big things out of him. I think Niner nation and the Niner empire will be proud of what A.J. Jenkins brings to the field this year.”
The 49ers hope Lockette is right. With Anquan Boldin only signed for this season and Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams coming off of injuries, Jenkins has an opportunity to play a major role in the near future.
New Era, the official on-field headwear of the National Football League, is teaming up with the NFL to launch the Back to Football Photo Day contest. So what this means is that 49ers fans will now have the chance to join the ranks of Frank Gore to also become THE face of the 49ers.
The contest, which is live atwww.speakwithyourcap.comor through New Era’s Facebook page(https://www.facebook.com/neweracaps?fref=ts) will require 49ers faithfuls tosubmit photos of themselves showcasing how you personally “speak with your cap.” Whether you wear your cap sideways, backwards or flexed at the brim, show how you are bringing your own style to the game.
32 fans (1 per team) will ultimately be chosen and win a complimentary trip to New York City for two. The winners will enjoy a four-day VIP experience and will be professionally styled in their favorite team’s looks for a New Era photo shoot that may be used for a year-long advertisement and promotional campaign.
The San Francisco 49ers drafted running back Marcus Lattimore with an eye on the future. The team hopes that when Lattimore’s knee is healthy and he’s ready to help them on the field, he can make a significant contribution to the offense. This past week, the 49ers got a look at where Lattimore stands in his recovery. Lattimore underwent a medical examination at Stanford on Thursday and the results appeared to be positive.
“Everything looks good structurally with all the guys that we drafted,” said head coach Jim Harbaugh. “The ACL looks really good for Marcus. We have to take a step back in terms of some of the cutting because we want that inside of the knee, the lateral side of the knee, to heal fully”
The 49ers will bring Lattimore along slowly. He has not yet been clear for any on the field activities but that should come as no surprise at this point in his rehab. Because his injury did not occur while he was in the NFL, Lattimore can begin the season the non-football injury list. The 49ers understand that he will probably sit out the entire 2013 season and be someone who would compete for carries in 2014.
“I think that would be fine,” Lattimore said. “Whatever happens these next three months probably will determine that. I’m going to continue to keep working hard, and if I’m called upon, I feel like I’ll be ready.”
The 49ers will continue to be cautious. Lattimore is a long term investment for the franchise and Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James are already in the fold for 2013. San Francisco’s deep backfield is a perfect place for the recovering runner to be.
The 49ers and Levi’s held a press conference Wednesday morning during in which they announced a naming-rights deal between the San Francisco-based jeans manufacturer and the 49ers.
The new $1.2 billion stadium will open next season, and a naming-rights deal is one of the ways the team will pay for the facility. The deal is for the next 20 years with an option to extend it to 30 years.
Levi’s was founded in 1853 when German immigrant Levis Strauss opened a dry goods store in San Francisco. The company made the first riveted men’s work pants – known now as blue jeans — in 1873. Levi’s corporate headquarters remains in San Francisco.
The 49ers’ new stadium, meanwhile, is 45 miles to the south in Santa Clara.
The first games will be played there in 2014, and the team currently is bidding to host either Super Bowl L or LI, which will be played in February 2016 and 2017. A decision on which cities will host the upcoming Super Bowls will be made by league owners later this month.
If you thought the 49ers had a lot of leverage in the 2013 NFL draft, just wait until next year. Peter King is reporting that, as part of the Alex Smith trade, Kansas City will send it’s second round pick in 2014 to San Francisco if the Chiefs finish 8-8 or better. If they finish below .500, the 49ers will get the Chiefs’ third round selection. This will give the Niners a possibility of six picks in the first three rounds. Six! Here is the breakdown:
The 49ers have their own choices in each of the first three rounds
The team owns Tennessee’s third round selection as part of the deal to trade down to select Tank Carradine in the second round of the 2013 draft
They will receive a compensatory pick for Dashon Goldson that could be as high as a third rounder (probably at worst a fourth)
They have acquired a second or third round pick from Kansas City (depending on the Chiefs’ record) as part of the Alex Smith trade
If the 49ers draft well (and history has given no reason to doubt they will in the Harbaugh/Baalke era) the team is in a position the remain competitive for a long time. The extra picks mean the team can continue to be aggressive on draft day and also gives them significant trading chips should a veteran from another team become available.
Frank Gore has been the face of the 49er’s offense since 2005. The franchise’s all time leading rusher, Gore has been remarkably consistent his whole career in red and gold. During the Harbaugh era, he has also been remarkably durable, playing all 32 games (37 counting the playoffs). But Gore only has so much left in he tank. He will enter the 2013 season at 30 years old. 30 is the scary age when you start to see running backs take a step back, although Gore has shown no signs of that. His stats over two seasons in Greg Roman’s offense have been almost identical. 1,211 yards rushing with 8 touchdowns in 2011. 1,214 yards rushing with 8 touchdowns in 2012.
While his stats have looked the same, a trend to keep an eye on is the amount of touches Gore will receive. Gore carried the ball less in 2012 than he did in 2011 (282 in ’11 to 258 in ’12) and actually responded with higher yards per carry (4.7 in ’12 opposed to 4.3 in ’11). Limiting Gore’s workload paid off in the playoffs as he averaged 106 yards on the ground and scored 4 rushing touchdowns. With Gore aging and other players in the fold, expect to see another dip in carries this upcoming season.
The 49ers have mostly gone with two running backs in the game plan under Harbaugh. Gore has been the feature back with Kendall Hunter rotating in to spell him. Gore has averaged just under 17 carries a game the past two years (16.8). Hunter has averaged just under 7 (6.8). When LaMichael James took over after Hunter’s injury, he also averaged just under 7 carries a contest (6.75). With how similar the touches were for Hunter and James, it tells you the 49ers stay true to their philosophy. This season though, they will have to find a way to get both Hunter and James involved in the offense and that will probably be at the expense of Gore. It’s not because Gore will be less effective, its because he’s older and the team wants him fresh down the stretch run. This approach is also going to help vary the team’s rushing attack. Gore will still be to focal point but his carries per game should dip again as Hunter and James continue to provide different looks for defenses. So how much less will Gore touch the ball? If the 49ers are running to ball around 25 times a game, one could predict Gore’s average carries would be somewhere in the 14-15 range, with Hunter and James splitting the other 10 or so in some way. Then there is the Colin Kaepernick factor. The 49er’s will want to limit his carries, but it’s still a factor in terms of touches, especially in the red zone.
The 49ers have signed 11 undrafted free agents to come to camp and compete for a spot on the roster. While it’s generally a long shot, you never know what kind of hidden gem you can find (just look at Alex Boone). One player of note is defensive lineman Lawrence Okoye. Okoye is a British Olympic discus thrower who placed 12th in the London Olympics. Also a former rugby player, he impressed NFL scouts at regional combines with his combination of size (6’6 305lbs) and athletic ability. When asked about Okoye, head coach Jim Harbaugh opined about the player as only Jim Harbaugh can. According to the San Francisco Gate, he said of Okoye: “He’s just an Adonis. Just a great physical specimen of a man. I can think of some other adjectives. Our Creator created a beautiful man.” Jim is becoming quite the quote!
Here is a list of the undrafted players the 49ers have signed: