SANTA CLARA — What Jauan Jennings has done when the ball isn’t in his hands is what has impressed teammate George Kittle the most.
For all intents and purposes Jennings is still a rookie. While he was drafted by the 49ers in the seventh-round of the 2020 NFL Draft, he didn’t suit up for an NFL game until Week 1 of the 2021 season due to a substantial hamstring injury after being drafted.
Week 2, in the 49ers win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Jennings recorded his first reception from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo which was a touchdown. The Tennessee product has only been targeted 13 times in 11 contests and has registered eight receptions for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
Jennings’ numbers don’t matter to the All-Pro tight end. The receiver has impressed Kittle with what he has done as a blocker and as a teammate. While Jennings has some similar tendencies as New England Patriots' Kendrick Bourne, there is one thing that stands out to Kittle.
“His mindset, 100-percent,” Kittle said. “I think some people compare him to K.B. and there are some similarities there, like his love for the game. You can feel his energy out there but I think he’s like a hybrid of Jeff Wilson and K.B.
“He’s right there in the middle. When he is on the football field he flips a switch and it’s like he is going to win or he is going to fight you trying. And I love that about him. He definitely brings a physicality.”
In the 49ers' Week 11 win in Jacksonville, Jennings got into a tussle with Jaguars Rayshawn Jenkins early in the second quarter. During the skirmish, the safety pulled off Jennings' helmet and then landed a punch on the receiver's face. Jenkins was ejected for the remainder of the game.
How Jennings kept his cool, and was seemingly amused by the whole event, left an impression on Kittle.
“He just goes after DBs and linebackers,” Kittle said. “He doesn’t care who you are. He is going to go after you and piss you off until you bring it back at him. You have a guy like that who is just an aggressive bulldog, some guys back down and some do stupid things and get penalties.”
Jennings' ferocious blocking was on display in Kittle’s second touchdown in Week 13 vs. Seattle. It wouldn’t have been a highlight reel tightrope display without Jennings clearing space for the tight end’s run down the sideline. Kittle knows how valuable that is to the offense as a whole and is looking forward to seeing how the young receiver continues to develop.