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Harbaugh defends rookie Jenkins, scolds reporters

6:40 AM, Jul 31, 2012   |    comments
Jim Harbaugh at 49ers press conference.
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A.J. Jenkins will likely have a tough time fulfilling expectations in 2012, but at least he has a key advocate in his corner: his head coach.

The San Francisco 49ers caused some head scratching when they drafted the Illinois wideout in the first round in April -- some draft pundits thought Jenkins was a reach in Round 1 -- and that was before he struggled with his conditioning and consistency in the offseason.

But Niners coach Jim Harbaugh defended Jenkins during the spring and made a point of getting his back again Sunday.

"A.J. Jenkins was an outstanding football player before he got here, and his progress has been very, very good and exceeded expectations," Harbaugh said during an ad hoc meeting with reporters.

"For those -- the scribes, pundits, so-called experts -- who have gone so far as to say that he's going to be a bust, should just stop. I recommend that because they're making themselves look more clueless than they already did.

"I'll go on record: A.J. is going to be an outstanding football player. So far in camp and what he's done in the offseason has led us to believe nothing but he'll be an outstanding football player in the National Football League.

"And, yeah, I'm going to keep track of some of these names of so-called experts who were making these comments. And there's going to be an 'I told you so.' I foresee that happening."

Whatever Harbaugh foresees, we assume he's taking the long view.

Regardless of whatever issues may have surfaced in minicamps and OTAs, Jenkins must -- like any other rookie -- still adjust to the NFL's speed, lifestyle and playbook ... and to make any significant impact as a rookie, he'll have to bypass Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss on the depth chart.

USA Today

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