Trent Baalke said the 49ers always are looking to draft self motivated players and he insisted that receiver A.J. Jenkins fits that category.
"We're very confident in his ability as we were when we drafted him," Baalke said Thursday to local reporters. "And now it's time for him to go back to work, and this offseason's going to be a big offseason. These guys - we've always said - their biggest growth is between Year 1 and Year 2. So we're expected that to happen this year, and certainly in AJ's case."
The 49ers drafted Jenkins 30th overall last year knowing the then-rookie would have trouble getting on the field with veterans Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Kyle Williams and Ted Ginn on the roster. But even after two of those players. Manningham and Williams, went down with injuries, Jenkins struggled to see playing time and finished the 2012 season without a catch.
On draft day, Baalke said the lanky wideout - listed at 192 pounds - needed to get stronger in the weight room. On Thursday, however, Baalke indicated Jenkins' biggest problem this past season was picking up the 49ers' offense.
"He's a young guy that came out of a college system that's taken a while to grasp to the pro system," Baalke said. "It's not a work ethic issue, it's not a skill set issue. It's learning the craft at the pro level. And that's a position historically that some have adapted to more quickly than others."
Jenkins ran afoul of some fans when, over the summer, former 49ers receiver Jerry Rice offered to run the famous "hill" with Jenkins, but the two never followed through on that plan. Jenkins recently said he would join quarterback Colin Kaepernick as CES Performance in Atlanta, but was not there when Kaepernick and two other receivers, Ricardo Lockette and Chad Hall, arrived there last week.
Baalke, however, said Jenkins would arrive there shortly if he wasn't already there now. He said he was happy the second-year receiver would spend time with Kaepernick, one of the most diligent workers on the team.
"Those are the type of players we're looking for," Baalke said. "We're looking for self-motivated guys, guys that really really take their professions seriously and really want to hone their craft and do the extras. We're looking for do-extra guys, and we're fortunate to have a lot of them."