Harbaugh lashes out at 'clueless' critics, defends Jenkins

July 29, 2012, 8:05 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- Jim Harbaugh made an unscheduled trip to the podium at 49ers training camp on Sunday to deliver an impassioned defense of rookie wide receiver A.J. Jenkins.

"A.J Jenkins was an outstanding football player when he got here," Harbaugh began. "His progress has been very, very good, and exceeded expectations.

"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."

Some local and national reports have labeled Jenkins as a disappointment, based on the 49ers' offseason program. Jenkins was the 49ers' first-round draft pick, selected 30th overall out of Illinois.

Harbaugh did not specify which reports raised his ire. On Saturday, Jenkins had a busy and productive day in practice, as documented by CSNBayArea.com.

When asked if he expects Jenkins to be a major contributor as a rookie, Harbaugh answered, "I expect him to have a great practice today. He's had two outstanding practices since we've been here in camp. It's been consistent, steady improvement every time he's come out here on the field or when we've been in a meeting. And it was already outstanding to begin with. If you recall the first day he was here at the rookie minicamp, I said, 'This is the best group of young receivers that I've ever been a part of in football, as a player or a coach.' It was good to start with and it's been better and better each day.

"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."

Jenkins got off to a slow start on the first day of rookie minicamp when he admittedly was not ready to handle the high work load. Harbaugh talked about the level of conditioning of the entire rookie class.

"And I said they would eventually get there," Harbaugh said. "And they are there. And A.J. Jenkins, specifically. His conditioning is tip-top."