Jenkins will get audition on kick returns

Three and Out: WR depth to be tested; Reid set for start

Jenkins will get audition on kick returns
August 18, 2013, 1:30 pm
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Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins will work on returning kickoffs in practice this week, Jim Harbaugh said Sunday. (AP)

SANTA CLARA -- Receiver A.J. Jenkins, who has yet to seize a roster spot, will be auditioned on kickoff returns this week, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Sunday.

"He's shown good things," Harbaugh said of Jenkins. "(And he's) going to do some additional things this week and put him in some additional roles to see how he does with that.

"I think with any particular player, you start talking individually, there's a process there and he's going through it and he's competing and he's working hard. Usually when you do that, good things happen."

Harbaugh stopped short of saying Jenkins has done enough to earn his spot on the 53-man roster. When asked if he is counting on Jenkins during the regular season, Harbaugh answered, "Yeah, we're counting on all these guys. Everybody has the license and ability to make the football team. There's nobody that we discount at this point. And put them in a position to compete and let the chips fall where they may. That's every guy on the roster."

[RELATED: Upon further view: Competitions still wide open]

The 49ers must trim their 90-man roster to 53 players for the start of the regular season. The first round of cuts to 75 players takes place Aug. 27. The cuts to 53 players is scheduled for Aug. 31.

The 49ers will open the regular season without their top two wide receivers from a year ago. Michael Crabtree will miss at least most of the season with an Achilles tear, and Mario Manningham will be ineligible for the first six weeks of the regular season as he rehabs a knee injury.

[RELATED: Manningham to open season on PUP list]

The 49ers were looking for Jenkins to assert himself as a legitimate option alongside starter Anquan Boldin, but that has not happened, yet.

Jenkins, the No. 30 overall pick in 2012, did not catch a pass as a rookie while seeing limited playing time despite season-ending injuries to Kyle Williams and Manningham. Jenkins was active for five regular-season games but saw action in just three games. He was in uniform for all three postseason games but did not catch a pass.

Jenkins has one official reception in the 49ers' first two exhibition games. He fumbled at the end of an 11-yard reception against the Denver Broncos in the 49ers' exhibition opener. He had a 21-yard reception against the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday, but Daniel Kilgore's holding penalty nullified the play.

Jenkins has been the intended target of two pass attempts that resulted in in Colt McCoy interceptions.

Jenkins' salaries of $705,000 and $1.021 million are fully guaranteed the next two seasons. If the 49ers cut Jenkins and another team claimed him off waivers, that team would be responsible for his salary. But if he went unclaimed, Jenkins would count $1.578 million against the 49ers' salary cap this year, and $2.76 million next year.

When asked if Jenkins' draft status and cap hit would factor into the 49ers' decision, Harbaugh said, "Things factor in, but longstanding football hasn't changed since the inception: Best players make the team."

The 49ers figure to open the season with six wide receivers. Boldin and Williams appear to be locks to make the 53-man roster.

Rookie Quinton Patton, a fourth-round draft pick who was cleared last week to begin catching passes after dealing with an injured finger in through the first three weeks of practices, is expected to have a spot on the 53-man roster, too. He'll be competing for a role in the offense.

And Harbaugh suggested Marlon Moore has a strong lead on one of the other spots. That could mean Jenkins is in a battle with Austin Collie, Lavelle Hawkins, Chad Hall, Ricardo Lockette, Kassim Osgood and Chuck Jacobs for, potentially, the final two spots.

"(I) wouldn't say anything is cemented, but there's been excellent play from Anquan Boldin," Harbaugh said. "Kyle Williams, we feel like we know what Kyle can do and we've been a little bit cautious there. I'm not going to go through every single guy, but there's some framework there. Marlon Moore has done an excellent job. I think everybody is in a very competitive role after those three."