After an NFC Championship appearance last season, the 2012 San Francisco 49ers started training camp with the ultimate goal in mind, and in reach. Super Bowl!
I know, every training camp, every single NFL team has that goal in mind, but it's not just the 49ers themselves that are believing they're the team to beat in the NFC. They followed up their brilliant 2011 season with an impressive offseason as they identified their holes and did an admirable job in filling them. One of the biggest flaws for the 49ers for most of the season and certainly into the playoffs was their lack of quality receiving options for Alex Smith. The Niners dominated with their defense, but when they had to put points on the board with their aerial attack, they struggled mightily. So in steps Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and first rounder A.J. Jenkins which should provide the 49ers a much more vertical passing game. Both Moss and Manningham have arrived in 49ers camp and impressed early on, but it hasn't been as smooth of sailing for the rookie. Jenkins has had a bit of a rough go of it early on in his first pro training camp. He's had some trouble holding up and his conditioning isn't quite where it should be, even if Coach Harbough doesn't want to admit it.
I'm still not getting why there is so much hype around the young wideout this early on though. Sure, he wasn't a projected first rounder and has some limitations to his game, but we're not even a week into training camp yet so you can't really grade him out yet. It's likely going to take Jenkins some time to adapt, and that's why the 49ers stocked up on other wideouts this spring. Even if Jenkins is only a part-timer his rookie season, the 49ers now have enough weapons at wideout now to do some damage. Moss has gotten nothing but rave reviews, and very well could enter the season as the teams number one wideout, especially if Michael Crabtree's injury woes haunt him again this preseason. Crabtree got hurt on the very first day of camp, turning his ankle, and even though he's been in the offense a few years, he's never had a full training camp and preseason to get acclimated with Smith. To me, the pressure should be on Michael Crabtree more than it should AJ Jenkins. It's year three for the flashy receiver and it's time for him to separate to take the next step!