Is first-round pick Jenkins ready to contribute?


Is first-round pick Jenkins ready to contribute?

The 49ers have yet to place wide receiver Mario Manningham on injured reserve, but obviously the club has a roster spot to fill after he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 49ers' blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.

The 49ers remained one player shy of the roster maximum of 52 players for the game at New England because the club determined anybody they added would not suit up for action, anyway. And that is the question now: Would anyone they add to the roster be among the 46 players to suit up for games?

The team usually dresses four wide receivers for games, and that does not have to change with Manningham's injury. Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss are the starters. Rookie A.J. Jenkins vaults into the role as the third receiver. Veteran Ted Ginn is the only player currently on the 53-man roster who has ever returned a punt for the 49ers, so he must be active.

The 49ers also have two receivers on their practice squad: Chad Hall and Ricardo Lockette, who have seen previous NFL game experience with Philadelphia and Seattle, respectively.

It's not often that a team has two of its top four receivers go down with season-ending injuries and the next person in line is a first-round draft pick. But that's the 49ers' situation now with Jenkins being bumped up a couple spots on the depth chart after Kyle Williams and Manningham were lost to injuries. The 49ers are likely to employ more two-back and two-tight end formations instead of three-receiver sets. In fact, undrafted rookie tight end Garrett Celek has the largest role of any of the 49ers' first-year players.

The only reason the 49ers would sign a currently unemployed veteran receiver -- has the name Terrell Owens crossed your mind? -- would be if the club had zero confidence in Jenkins. After all, any receiver the 49ers signed with the intent of suiting up and playing would push Jenkins back to the inactive list.

Second-round draft pick LaMichael James got his chance as the No. 2 running back behind Frank Gore due to a season-ending injury to Kendall Hunter and Brandon Jacobs' suspension. James has 76 yards on 20 carries, but made an impact against the Patriots with a momentum-turning 62-yard kickoff return.

Jenkins has suited up for just two games in his rookie season, playing a total of 16 snaps. He has yet to catch a pass -- or even seen one thrown his way. Now, he should at least get an opportunity to step onto the field in the final regular-season game and for as long as the playoffs last for the 49ers.

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

Why Shanahan chose Hoyer and Barkley over Kaepernick

PHOENIX – Coach Kyle Shanahan walked into a position with the 49ers in which he had no quarterbacks on the roster.

On the first two days of free agency, the 49ers added Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. He determined they were better fits for the offense he would be installing over Colin Kaepernick, who started 64 regular-season and postseason games for the 49ers over the past 4 ½ seasons.

Shanahan appeared to be looking for quarterbacks who are more proficient at going through progressions and making plays from the pocket. Kaepernick was not deemed as a good fit for Shanahan's offense.

“Colin’s had a great career, and he’s done some really good things,” Shanahan said on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. “I think Colin has a certain skillset that you can put a specific offense to it that he can be very successful in.

“When we first looked at it, you got to look at each quarterback and what type of offense you want to put in. That wasn’t necessarily the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to put in a different type of offense.”

Kaepernick opted out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. General manager John Lynch has confirmed the 49ers would have released Kaepernick if he had not opted out of his deal.

“The type of offense I wanted to run was somewhat different and that’s why we went that type of direction,” Shanahan said.

The 49ers’ top target in free agency was Hoyer, who enters his ninth NFL season with his sixth different team. Shanahan was offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns in 2014 in Hoyer’s second and final season with the club.

Hoyer started five games with Chicago in 2016 before getting sidelined with broken left arm. Hoyer completed 67 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions in 200 attempts.

“All these questions about what I like in a quarterback, Brian is like that,” Shanahan said. “He’s obsessed with the game. He will learn your offense. He’ll be able to execute and run it. That gives other guys a chance to perform in your offense. If your quarterback can’t execute it and go through it, it doesn’t always matter what the O-line or the receivers are doing.

“With Brian, you have a very smart guy who works at it, will hang in the pocket and is fearless, will keep his eyes down the field and deliver the ball to the right spots. It gives people a chance to be successful.”

The 49ers also reached a contract agreement with Barkley, who started six games with the Bears due to injuries to Jay Cutler and Hoyer. Barkley saw the most extensive playing time of his career. He completed 59.7 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

“Just watching Matt since college, Matt’s always been a solid player, even coming out and playing at an early age at (USC),” Shanahan said. “He’s battle-tested in that way. He’s gone through the pressure of college, the pressure of the draft, being in the NFL, being with some different teams. Even watching Matt in Chicago this year, I think he played better this year than he has throughout his career. That means the guy is continuing to work at it.”

The 49ers figure to go to training camp with four quarterbacks, so the team is not finished at the quarterback position.

“We’ll look to add anyone who can really help us,” Shanahan said. “I’m very happy with the two we got. You know we’re not only going to take two to camp. So we got to see how the draft works out and then you see what else is out there.”

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

PHOENIX – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday he does not believe quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being “blackballed” in his attempt to continue his career.

“I haven’t heard that from our clubs in any way that that’s an issue,” Goodell said during his press conference to conclude the NFL owners meetings.

“My experience in 35 years is that our clubs make independent evaluations of players. They work hard to try to improve their teams. But if they think a player can help improve their team, they’re going to do that.”

Kaepernick remains unsigned as an unrestricted free agent after opting out of his 49ers contract earlier this month. Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman this week was asked on ESPN’s "First Take" whether he felt Kaepernick was being blackballed.

"I'm sure he is," Sherman answered. "It's difficult to see because he's played at such a high level, and you see guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by teams. So it's difficult to understand."

General manager John Lynch on Tuesday said the 49ers have not had any contact with Kaepernick since he and coach Kyle Shanahan met with Kaepernick on Feb. 22 in Santa Clara. The 49ers signed free-agent quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley have shown no interest in re-signing Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, 29, created a controversy last season when he opted to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial inequality in the United States. Kaepernick has decided to stand for the national anthem this season.

Earlier in the day, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said it was “stupid” and “intellectually lazy” to think teams have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the league. Last week, former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, John’s brother, said Kaepernick is still an outstanding player and can win championships.

“I absolutely think he’s going to get signed,” John Harbaugh said. “I agree with Jim. He can win games for people.”