The 49ers went into last week’s draft needing wide receiver help, and they got it in the first round with Brandon Aiyuk.
The former Arizona State standout should immediately compete for a starting role.
But San Francisco also added another wideout two days later who has some special skills and may turn out to be a great value pick. That’s Jauan Jennings of Tennessee, a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder who was selected in the seventh round, the 217th overall selection.
As a fifth-year senior in 2019, Jennings had 59 catches over 13 games for 969 yards – a 16.4-yard average – and eight touchdowns.
Jennings wasn’t considered among the elite receivers in this year’s deep crop – not like Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy or Aiyuk – but Jennings was ranked as the 70th-best overall prospect in the draft by the analytic website Pro Football Focus, and ranked No. 1 in major college football among all wide receivers in missed tackles forced. He had 30, four more than Lamb and six more than another top prospect, Justin Jefferson.
Jennings didn’t test well at the NFL Combine – his 40-yard dash and vertical jump numbers were disappointing – but his highlight reel was strong. Jennings said he met with the 49ers at the combine and said, “They loved my film, they loved my tape. They just really needed me to basically dive deep in myself to work harder, and I take that upon myself to do so.”
Pro Football Focus rated Jennings as among the “biggest steals” of the draft.
Wrote PFF: “What Jauan Jennings does in an open field is a sight to see and makes us wonder how he fell this far into the draft, but Kyle Shanahan surely isn’t mad he did. He lacks straight-line speed but was incredibly difficult to bring down at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds. This past year, Jennings broke 30 tackles on just 59 catches. Jennings’ suddenness at his size is remarkable, too. He’ll fit in quite nicely in Shanahan’s offense.”
Jennings will try to earn a roster spot among a group of receivers that includes Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Dante Pettis, Travis Benjamin, Kendrick Bourne, Richie James and Jalen Hurd and Trent Taylor (both of whom missed all of last season to injury).