SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The curious tale of wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, the San Francisco 49ers' surprise first round pick in 2012, added another less-than-memorable chapter to his biography in the team's preseason opener, a 10-6 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Jenkins may be in better contention for the biggest first round bust of the 2012 draft than he is for a spot on the 49ers roster.
He had no catches during his rookie season and after finally hauling in a pass at Candlestick Park Thursday, he fumbled it away in one of the team's four turnovers of the game.
Jenkins was on the field for most of the first half, but targeted only three times, two of which ended in turnovers. The other turnover wasn't Jenkins' fault. It was a badly overthrown pass by quarterback Scott Tolzien and intercepted. The third throw his way was an underthrown ball that Jenkins had no chance to get.
"Could have been better," coach Jim Harbaugh said of Jenkins. "We got work to do in areas."
The poor play from Jenkins wasn't the first bad sign about his chances at having a role with the 49ers. That came before the game started when Marlon Moore was named the starting wide receiver opposite veteran Anquan Boldin. The same Marlon Moore who had 12 career catches in parts of two seasons with the Miami Dolphins.
At the time of wide receiver Michael Crabtree's offseason torn Achilles, it was assumed Jenkins would be the next guy up. At some point, a first-round pick would see the field, right?
That's no longer a foregone conclusion.
Chad Hall, Ricardo Lockette, Kyle Williams and Moore have consistently outplayed Jenkins in camp and veteran Austin Collie caught two passes for 20 yards against Denver after only a week with the team. Eventually the 49ers will welcome back Mario Manningham and Crabtree to play alongside Boldin. That means Jenkins, a year after being the 30th overall pick, might be looking for a new team.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick offered words of encouragement for Jenkins after he coughed up the fumble.
"He is someone that we need to be able to rely on," Kaepernick said, which is about as encouraging as it gets based on what little Jenkins has done.
--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.