The 49ers made one of the surprise picks of the first round by taking Illinois receiver A.J. Jenkins with the 30th overall selection. Jenkins, who caught 90 passes for 1,096 yards for Illinois last year, was one of several college wideouts who visited the 49ers in the last two months. Jenkins measures six feet and weighs 192 pounds and is viewed as a down-field threat for the 49ers.
Among the most surprised -- Jenkins himself. "Right now I'm speechless," he said during a conference call during which he had to compose himself several times. Jenkins said he was returning from the bathroom when one of his sisters told him his phone was ringing. A cousin had pranked him earlier in the night, and Jenkins thought this was another joke.
It wasn't. It was 49ers general manager Trent Baalke on the other end. "When (the phone) said 'San Jose,' I said, 'Oh my God!'" Jenkins said.
Both Baalke and Jim Harbaugh described Jenkins as a "gold-helmet guy," which meant that he has the high character they desire in a draft pick. Baalke cited Jenkins' speed -- he was clocked at 4.31 second at the combine by the 49ers -- his versatility and his fluidity in and out of breaks as traits that caught his eye.
Baalke was so confident in Jenkins that last night he put Jenkins' name in an envelope, sealed it and told the coaches and scouts around him, "This is the guy we're going to take."
Jenkins will join an offense that added two other receivers, Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, in the offseason. Jenkins certainly is a surprise considering that most prognosticators had him being taken in the second round at the earliest. Baalke said the Minnesota Vikings called the 49ers to see if they were interested in trading. That would have given the 49ers the third pick in the second round.
But Baalke said he worried that another team would have come in and taken Jenkins before the 49ers. "He would have gone a lot sooner tomorrow than a lot of people think," Baalke said.
-- Matt Barrows