49ers: Five things to watch against Kansas City

Three and Out: All eyes on Jenkins, Tolzien, and Daniels

49ers: Five things to watch against Kansas City
August 16, 2013, 8:15 am
Share This Post

If A.J. Jenkins plays with more attitude and urgency, he can easily solidify his role on the 53-man roster. (USA TODAY IMAGES)


Marlon Moore has put together a solid training camp while working with quarterback Colin Kaepernick. (AP)


Nnamdi Asomugha has not yet locked down a spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster. (AP)

Editor's note: Training camp is underway. For all the latest news from Santa Clara, check out our 49ers training camp page.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Among a crowded group of 49ers wide receivers competing for roles, A.J. Jenkins stands out.

The 49ers' top pick in the 2012 draft continues to draw a lot of attention. And, certainly, his every move Friday night in the 49ers' exhibition game against the Kansas City Chiefs will be heavily scrutinized.

"I don't feel no pressure," Jenkins told reporters Thursday at the team's Santa Clara practice facility. "I just go out there and play football. Right now, I'm just trying to play my best football."

The problem is Jenkins has not played his best football on a consistent basis. He has experienced an up-and-down training camp. Jenkins caught one pass in the 49ers' exhibition opener against the Denver Broncos but fumbled it away for one of the team's four turnovers.

Anquan Boldin and Kyle Williams appear to be ahead of the team's other wide receivers. Rookie Quinton Patton has been unable to catch passes during training camp due to an injury to the index finger on his left hand, but his spot on the roster is secure.

None of the team's other wide receivers has created any separation for what figures to be three more roster spots. Marlon Moore earned the starting assignment in the exhibition opener a week ago against the Denver Broncos. Moore has put together a solid training camp while working with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

"I always tell him, 'If you throw it up, I'm going to do my best to make a play for you,'" Moore said. "It's coming to me or nobody's going to get it. That's the mindset we have. If he throws it up, it's mine. I got to go get it for him, no matter what."

[RATTO: Will A.J. Jenkins have his 'I told you so' moment?]

That kind of mindset is something Jenkins has not displayed on the practice field or in games. If Jenkins plays with more attitude and urgency, he can easily solidify his role on the 53-man roster.

But, right now, Jenkins is in a battle with Moore, Austin Collie, Ricardo Lockette, Chad Hall, Lavelle Hawkins and Kassim Osgood. Undrafted rookie Chuck Jacobs is a long shot to stick on the 53-man roster.

Here are other things to watch in the 49ers' second exhibition game of the summer:

2. The backup quarterbacks: Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien struggled in the exhibition opener. Both players will look to gain some traction in the race for the No. 2 job behind Kaepernick.

McCoy has experience and athleticism working in his favor. McCoy had a 6-15 record as a starter in 2010 and 2011 with the Cleveland Browns. Last year, Brandon Weeden replaced him as the Browns' starter, and the 49ers acquired McCoy in an offseason trade to replace Alex Smith as the backup.

Tolzien has been in the 49ers' system the past two seasons. He appears to be on equal footing with McCoy with three exhibition games remaining.

Rookie B.J. Daniels, a seventh-round draft pick, has the strongest arm of the backup candidates. He also is adept at running the read option. The 49ers plan to give Daniels some action Friday night, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said.

[RELATED: Competition for backup job places Tolzien under the pistol]

3. Alex Smith's new home: As far as notable reunions, Alex Smith facing his former team barely registers because there's nothing at stake in an exhibition game. There figure to be a lot of pre-game handshakes and hugs, as well as post-game photo opportunities.

The 49ers defensive players are certainly not out to get Smith. Obviously, he has a lot of friends on the 49ers -- on both sides of the ball, as well as the coaching staff.

[RELATED: Alex Smith: I made peace with 49ers fans, organization

The 49ers' defense did very little game-planning to face Smith. But let's look ahead a year. The Chiefs are scheduled to play in the inaugural season for the 49ers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. Now, that will be intriguing.

4. Asomugha watch: Veteran Nnamdi Asomugha has been solid since the opening of training camp. Chris Culliver's season-ending ACL injury has opened the door at the No. 3 cornerback position, and Asomugha remains in the mix.

The 49ers really like fourth-year player Tramaine Brock. He is the favorite to win the No. 3 job behind starters Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown due to his quickness and cover skills. But Asomugha and Perrish Cox have also shown some good things.

Asomugha must convince the 49ers' coaching staff there's a role for him in the team's defense. His length allows him to play press coverage and re-route wide receivers. But the old vet must also show he can change direction and run. He has not yet locked down a spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster.

5. LaMichael's hands: Ideally, the 49ers would like to hand over all the return duties to LaMichael James (shown, right) and never give it a second thought. But, first, James must make it through the exhibition season without any problems on punt returns.

Cox and Hall have looked comfortable handling punts. James is vastly improved from a year ago -- when he mishandled four punts in four exhibition games -- but he still must be flawless with a bunch of angry men charging down the field intent on lighting him up.

More Team Talk