San Francisco 49ers' Top Pick A.J. Jenkins Could Miss Season Opener

Wide Receiver Depth Unfamiliar Territory for Alex Smith

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | In 2011, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith didn't have enough targets at wide receiver to be effective. According to head coach Jim Harbaugh, he now has five No. 1 receivers.

What a difference a year makes.

Even more newsworthy is who the odd man out will likely be. It's been reported that the 49ers' 2012 No. 1 draft pick A.J. Jenkins may not make the 46-man roster when the team travels to take on the Green Bay Packers. When there were questions about the former Illini receiver's work ethic and conditioning prior to training camp, even the most skeptical onlookers couldn't have envisioned this scenario.

But when considering the company Jenkins is in -- a future Hall-of-Famer in Randy Moss, a Super Bowl champion in Mario Manningham and a corps of players who know their jobs are on the line in Michael Crabtree, Kyle Williams, and Tedd Ginn Jr., it makes sense that a rookie with less than rave reviews may have to sit for awhile.

It could be the wake-up call he needs.

The talent is clearly there, and the 49ers didn't draft Jenkins on a whim. He can definitely play. The problem is that there has been too much talk and not enough to show for it on the field.

Whether he's a first-round pick or not, Jenkins will have to work to succeed in the NFL. If he doesn't have what it takes, then the 49ers will have no problem moving on. It appears that they may already have.

They're not taking any chances with the passing game this season.

If you're the 49ers, having too much depth at wide receiver is the best problem that's come about in years. It's one less hurdle for Smith to worry about overcoming in order to reach his full potential as a passer.

There wasn't a lot left to be desired in San Francisco in 2011, but one area the team struggled in was passing offense, where it ranked 29th out of 32 teams with 2,930 yards through the air.

Harbaugh and the rest of the coaching staff will do everything they can moving forward to make sure the team improves in that area, including sideline their top pick, if it translates to on-field production.

Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the San Francisco 49ers and the NFL. He has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com and is the Editor of SportsOutWest.com .For more insight, follow him on Twitter.

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