A couple of things quickly zoomed through the mind of Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins when the San Francisco 49ers called to say he was their first-round pick in the NFL Draft.
It was a joke. It was crazy. It certainly was a surprise. Jenkins wasn’t one of the 26 players brought to New York for the draft. He was at home in Jacksonville — in the bathroom at home in Jacksonville — when the Niners called to tell him he was the 30th pick in the lightning-fast first round.
“Honestly, I was watching with my mom, my two sisters, my brother, and my cousin,” Jenkins said in a conference call with reporters, “and we were just watching the draft, just joking around laughing. I was in the bathroom and my sister came out and said, ‘Your phone is ringing.’
Jenkins left the bathroom rather quickly.
“I sprinted because I didn’t know if they were joking or not because during the middle of the draft my cousin had called my phone, but he was playing with me. I thought it was another joke and it’s just crazy.”
Jenkins wasn’t sure whether he spoke to Coach Jim Harbaugh or General Manager Trent Baalke. Not that it mattered at that moment (as long as it wasn’t his cousin again). “It was the 49ers. I was so lost for words. I was so out of words. I’m just like, wow, first round?” he said. “I just heard a voice that said, ‘We’re taking you at pick 30.’ I just started tearing up. I’m just so exited right now. I’m so excited right now.”
He might have been projected as a second-rounder, but he now joins a group of receivers that includes Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. Jenkins averaged 48.6 yards per touchdown catch last year and scored on five catches of more than 50 yards.
“Trent Baalke last night put his name in an envelope and said, ‘This is who we’re going to pick,’ ” Harbaugh said. “We all agreed on it and it held true. That was the guy we wanted and that was the highest player on the board when the time came to pick him.”