Jenkins begins camp behind experienced receivers


Jenkins begins camp behind experienced receivers

SANTA CLARA -- It's not often that a first-round draft pick shows up to training camp with three proven players clearly ahead of him on the depth chart.But that is A.J. Jenkins' situation.Jenkins hit the practice field Monday, along with other 49ers rookies and selected veterans. The remaining the veterans are scheduled to report to camp on Thursday with the first full-squad practice slated for Friday.The 49ers have three established wide receivers on the roster: Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. Unless there's an injury that keeps one of the top three players out of action for a while, there does not figure to be many chances for a fourth receiver to contribute.
The good thing for Jenkins is that he can learn a lot about the game as a rookie behind the scenes. He said he took advantage of being around those players during the offseason program."I've learned a lot," Jenkins said "I've talked to them over the offseason to see what they do and how they get their bodies ready for camp. I've taken a lot of advice from all of the guys, Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn. I'm like a sponge taking in everything that I'm told."Jenkins never hooked up this offseason with Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, who reached out to Jenkins via Twitter.REWIND: Rice challenges Jenkins to run 'The Hill'
There was talk about Jenkins running the famed San Carlos hill that Rice and many 49ers in the 1980s and '90s used for offseason conditioning. Of course, now that training camp has started for Jenkins, his next opportunity to run with Rice will come after the season.While Jenkins might not figure prominently into the team's plans this season, there is a lot of interest in his development because of his first-round status. As the No. 30 overall pick, Jenkins discovered during the offseason that he'll be subject to more scrutiny than he ever experienced during his playing career at Illinois.In short, he had the kind of offseason that one would expect from a rookie receiver. Coach Jim Harbaugh pointed out after the first practice of the rookie minicamp that Jenkins was not in acceptable physical condition. But Jenkins' endurance was never questioned again after the first weekend. And on the final day of the team's mandatory minicamp, Jenkins provided the best catch that was seen during any of the offseason practices that were open to the media.Some outside reports may have been unfairly critical. Jenkins said he did not notice. But, clearly, he did."I don't pay attention to that stuff," Jenkins said. "I don't go on the Internet and I don't 'Google' my name. I don't do any of that stuff. There's no point because it's all about the 49ers."I made long strides, as far as that (conditioning and strength). Obviously, I had some criticism when I first came in from not being in shape, being a bust, all that other stuff. Right now, that's all irrelevant. I'm just trying to just help this team win, whether that's playing special teams or offense or being a real good teammate. Right now, that's my focus."Jenkins, who never returned a punt during his college career, worked in the offseason in that phase of the game. During one open practice, Jenkins and each of the return men struggled catching punts from Andy Lee in a stiff wind. But Jenkins said he is getting more comfortable."It's a lot more comfortable when you have Ted Ginn back there to coach you up and to have one of the best punters ever kicking to you every day," Jenkins said.The 49ers may have only four wide receivers active for regular-season game days with that fourth player -- more than likely, Ginn -- having a primary role as a return specialist.RELATED: Healthy, stronger Ginn reports with 49ers rookies
The 49ers may never have four receivers on the field at the same time because of the receiving prowess of tight end Vernon Davis and such running backs as Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter or LaMichael James being valuable on pass plays.So unless Jenkins can unexpectedly surpass Manningham on the depth chart, he figures to have a quiet rookie season. Kyle Williams likely begins camp ahead of Jenkins, too.
Here is a look at each team's 2011 production from the fourth-leading wide receiver:Arizona: Chansi Stuckey 4 catches, 39 yards, 0 TDs
Atlanta: Eric Weems 11-90-0
Baltimore: LaQuan Williams 4-46-0
Buffalo: Donald Jones 23-231-1
Carolina: Seyi Ajirotutu 1-4-0
Chicago: Devin Hester 26-369-1
Cincinnati: Andrew Hawkins 23-263-0
Cleveland: Carlton Mitchell 3-31-0
Dallas: Kevin Ogletree 15-164-0
Denver: Eddie Royal 19-155-1
Detroit: Rashied Davis 4-63-0
Green Bay: Donald Driver 37-445-6
Houston: Bryant Johnson 6-90-1
Indianapolis: None
Jacksonville: Chastin West 13-163-2
Kansas City: Keary Colbert 9-89-0
Miami: Clyde Gates 2-19-0
Minnesota: Greg Camarillo 9-121-0
New England: Julian Edelman 4-34-0
New Orleans: Devery Henderson 32-503-2
N.Y. Giants: Ramses Barden 9-94-0
N.Y. Jets: Derrick Mason 13-115-0
Oakland: Jacoby Ford 19-279-1
Philadelphia: Riley Cooper 16-315-1
Pittsburgh: Emmanuel Sanders 22-288-2
St. Louis: Austin Pettis 27-256-0
San Diego: Vincent Brown 19-329-2
San Francisco: Josh Morgan 15-220-1
Seattle: Sidney Rice 32-484-2
Tampa Bay: Arrelious Benn 30-441-3
Tennessee: Kenny Britt 17-289-3
Washington: Leonard Hankerson 13-163-0

Large report finds CTE in 110 of 111 brains from former NFL players


Large report finds CTE in 110 of 111 brains from former NFL players

CHICAGO -- Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

It's the largest update on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a debilitating brain disease that can cause a range of symptoms including memory loss.

The report doesn't confirm that the condition is common in all football players; it reflects high occurrence in samples at a Boston brain bank that studies CTE. Many donors or their families contributed because of the players' repeated concussions and troubling symptoms before they died.

"There are many questions that remain unanswered," said lead author Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neuroscientist. "How common is this" in the general population and all football players?

"How many years of football is too many?" and "What is the genetic risk? Some players do not have evidence of this disease despite long playing years," she noted.

It's also uncertain if some players' lifestyle habits - alcohol, drugs, steroids, diet - might somehow contribute, McKee said.

Dr. Munro Cullum, a neuropsychologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, emphasized that the report is based on a selective sample of men who were not necessarily representative of all football players. He said problems other than CTE might explain some of their most common symptoms before death - depression, impulsivity and behavior changes. He was not involved in the report.

McKee said research from the brain bank may lead to answers and an understanding of how to detect the disease in life, "while there's still a chance to do something about it." Currently, there's no known treatment.

The strongest scientific evidence says CTE can only be diagnosed by examining brains after death, although some researchers are experimenting with tests performed on the living. Many scientists believe that repeated blows to the head increase risks for developing CTE, leading to progressive loss of normal brain matter and an abnormal buildup of a protein called tau. Combat veterans and athletes in rough contact sports like football and boxing are among those thought to be most at risk.

The new report was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

CTE was diagnosed in 177 former players or nearly 90 percent of brains studied. That includes 110 of 111 brains from former NFL players; 48 of 53 college players; nine of 14 semi-professional players, seven of eight Canadian Football league players and three of 14 high school players. The disease was not found in brains from two younger players.

A panel of neuropathologists made the diagnosis by examining brain tissue, using recent criteria from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, McKee said.

The NFL issued a statement saying these reports are important for advancing science related to head trauma and said the league "will continue to work with a wide range of experts to improve the health of current and former NFL athletes."

After years of denials, the NFL acknowledged a link between head blows and brain disease and agreed in a $1 billion settlement to compensate former players who had accused the league of hiding the risks.

The journal update includes many previously reported cases, including former NFL players Bubba Smith, Ken Stabler, Dave Duerson and Ralph Wenzel.

New ones include retired tight end Frank Wainright, whose 10-year NFL career included stints with the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens. Wainright died in April 2016 at age 48 from a heart attack triggered by bleeding in the brain, said his wife, Stacie. She said he had struggled almost eight years with frightening symptoms including confusion, memory loss and behavior changes.

Wainright played before the league adopted stricter safety rules and had many concussions, she said. He feared CTE and was adamant about donating his brain, she said.

"A lot of families are really tragically affected by it - not even mentioning what these men are going through and they're really not sure what is happening to them. It's like a storm that you can't quite get out of," his wife said.

Frank Wycheck, another former NFL tight end, said he worries that concussions during his nine-year career - the last seven with the Tennessee Titans - have left him with CTE and he plans to donate his brain to research.

"Some people have heads made of concrete, and it doesn't really affect some of those guys," he said. "But CTE is real."

"I know I'm suffering through it, and it's been a struggle and I feel for all the guys out there that are going through this," said Wycheck, 45.

In the new report, McKee and colleagues found the most severe disease in former professional players; mild disease was found in all three former high school players diagnosed with the disease. Brain bank researchers previously reported that the earliest known evidence of CTE was found in a high school athlete who played football and other sports who died at age 18. He was not included in the current report.

The average age of death among all players studied was 66. There were 18 suicides among the 177 diagnosed.

Reports: Former 49ers wide receiver to visit Bills


Reports: Former 49ers wide receiver to visit Bills

Aquan Boldin is looking for a new football home.

And the former 49ers wide receiver is visiting with the Bills on Monday, according to multiple reports.

Boldin started all 16 games with the Lions last season, recording 67 catches for 584 yards and eight touchdowns.

From 2013 to 2015 with the 49ers, he racked up 237 receptions, 3030 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns.

The three-time Pro Bowler will turn 37 years old in October.

Boldin entered the NFL as the 54th overall pick in the 2003 draft.