Niners' rookies mostly behind the scenes

Posted Sept. 15, 2012 @ 12:38 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

If you’re expecting the Niners’ 2012 rookie crop to deliver anywhere near the same kind of impact their rookie group delivered last season, you could be waiting a pretty long time.

Three rookies in particular who were conspicuous by their absence in the Niners’ season opener were second-round RB LaMichael James and fourth-round OG Joe Looney, both of whom were inactive, and first-round WR A.J. Jenkins, who did not play a snap.

“I think that’s the way it could be all year,” said one daily team observer of a trio that could be kept in mothballs much of the season due primarily to the plentiful talent supply at their positions.

Jenkins is buried on the depth chart behind Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams and clearly remains a major work in progress. The likelihood that Looney would make an instant impact lessened with the emergence of both free-agent addition Leonard Davis and Alex Boone, who has proven to be a surprisingly solid fit as the new starting right guard.

James, one would think, figures to enter the mix sooner than later, considering his big-play talents. “But Kendall Hunter has looked great getting the ball more, and (free-agent addition) Brandon Jacobs (knee) hasn’t even been used yet,” the insider said. “As soon as next year, though, all these guys could be used a lot more.”

As for this season, don’t be surprised if the rookie who ends up with the most playing time is sixth-round pick Trent Robinson as a fourth safety and active special-teamer.