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Grant Cohn: 49ers can't catch a break when they draft wide receivers

  • Terrell Owens far exceeded the expectations of a third round draft choice. (Donna McWilliam / Associated Press)

By now, you've seen what I've seen from A.J. Jenkins the past two training camps:

A wide receiver utterly overmatched by starting NFL cornerbacks. Friday night against the Chiefs, he faced their starting right cornerback Sean Smith and could not shake him. When Smith decided to press Jenkins, Smith swallowed him up. Jenkins couldn't get past the line of scrimmage.

Jenkins is the eighth or ninth-best wide receiver on the 49ers. Anquan Boldin, Marlon Moore, Kyle Williams, Austin Collie, Quinton Patton, Chad Hall, Chuck Jacobs and Lavelle Hawkins all are better than Jenkins. He doesn't deserve a spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster. He's one of the biggest busts in 49ers' franchise history, up there with Kentwan Balmer, Rashaun Woods and Jim Druckenmiller.

But this isn't a pile-on-Jenkins column. He didn't draft himself in the first round, and he may become a decent receiver one day. He has the physical tools to do so. He just may not have the temperament or will.

This column is about the general manager, Trent Baalke. Actually, it's about the entire 49ers front office, including Jim Harbaugh. We assume they work together, coaches, scouts and general manager.

Collectively, they stink at drafting wide receivers.

They're brilliant at drafting other positions, like linebacker and guard and fullback – the bruisers. But when it comes to more finesse positions like wide receiver and cornerback, the 49ers have been lost for almost two decades.

The 49ers drafted Terrell Owens in the third round of the 1996 draft. Dwight Clark picked him. That was a brilliant pick.

Since then, the 49ers have drafted 17 wide receivers: Ryan Thelwell, Tai Streets, Cedrick Wilson, Brandon Lloyd, Arnaz Battle, Rashaun Woods, Derrick Hamilton, Rasheed Marshall, Marcus Maxwell, Brandon Williams, Jason Hill, Josh Morgan, Michael Crabtree, Kyle Williams, Ronald Johnson, A.J. Jenkins and Quinton Patton. Ugh.

Crabtree was a good pick, but he was a no-brainer when he fell to the 49ers at No. 10. Brandon Lloyd was a pretty good pick, but he never did much for the 49ers and he had only one 1,000-yard season in his 10-year career. Woods was a first-round bust. Brandon Williams and Jason Hill were third-round busts.

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