Just last week, familiar questions were starting to surface again about 49ers receiver A.J. Jenkins.
With a sore right hamstring, the second-year wide receiver was sidelined at the team’s Santa Clara training camp at a time when the Niners were hoping he could step up his performance in practices and showt he has what it takes to win a starting spot opposite Anquan Boldin.
Because Jenkins essentially disappeared last season – failing to catch a single pass in the regular season – suddenly 49ers observers were wondering if the injury again might delay his development and leave him out of the picture. All those offseason stories about Jenkins putting in extra work with quarterback Colin Kaepernick or increasing his upper-body strength suddenly seemed irrelevant.
After all, even Jenkins went into training camp knowing he had to prove himself.
“I don’t want to have another slow year,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Kevin Lynch.
Now, Jenkins appears back on track.
After returning to practice this weekend, Jenkins made an immediate impact – making a nice, 50-yard reception for a touchdown in practice Sunday – and showing the speed that caught the 49ers’ eyes in 2012 when the team made him its first-round draft pick out of Illinois.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reported that Jenkins caught four of six passes thrown in his direction during 11-on-11 full-team drills.
Though Jenkins admits his hamstring isn’t 100 percent, he performed well Sunday. He beat Perrish Cox on a post-corner route during one-on-one drills and later caught another ball while covered by starting cornerback Tarell Brown.
Jenkins says he’s now “full go” for the team’s exhibition opener against the Broncos Thursday at Candlestick Park (6 p.m.).
He knows he needs to make an impression over the next several weeks in practices and exhibition games. The competition for a starting wideout spot is wide open.
“For me, every practice is critical, and I need to show coaches and everyone else that I’m here to make an impact this year,” Jenkins told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh agreed, telling Inman: “He was slowed by not practicing and he needs reps. We’re looking forward to him getting those this week and the ballgame. He needs playing time.”