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Shanahan says Jennings' 'blacked-out' energy inspires 49ers

/ by Dalton Johnson
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Jauan Jennings is a former seventh-round draft pick who missed his entire rookie year to injury last season. He had just eight catches for 70 yards through Week 13 this season. But starting in the 49ers' win the next week against the Cincinnati Bengals, Jennings has been a key contributor to the offense. 

In Weeks 14 through 18, Jennings caught 16 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns. On Sunday, he played MVP as the receiver caught two touchdowns and finished with a career-high six receptions for 94 yards. 

It's the energy that Jennings has brought all season long that coach Kyle Shanahan praises, and that was rewarded in the biggest game of the year. Jennings reminds Shanahan of former 49ers receiver Kendrick Bourne, who also went undrafted and signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the New England Patriots this past offseason. 

Jennings might be all happy-go-lucky in the locker room, but on game days, nobody is more locked in. 

"Jauan, he's going so hard," Shanahan said Wednesday. "He's always borderline, I'd say 95 percent blacked out, which makes you play at a certain level, which is awesome."

Shanahan also knows how important that last five percent is. 

"That five percent, he knows how to play within the lines and be smart about it," Shanahan said. 

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo sees exactly that in the wide receiver, too. He believes that's what makes Jennings now a difference-maker in the 49ers' offense. 

He also explained how much of a Jekyll and Hyde type of player the Tennessee product can be. 

 

"That's where Jauan is special," Garoppolo said. "There's a fine line between being hyped up, but in the big moments you want to be locked in. Jauan does a good job of that. He knows when to separate it.

"In the locker room, that dude is the life of the party. He's fun to be around. But then when you're in the huddle, I look into the guy's eyes and he's as locked in as anyone in that huddle. He does a great job of toeing that line, and those are the guys you want in the huddle with you. Someone who you can look at and know they're in it with you."

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Jennings already has shown what type of player he is, even when he's not getting the ball. He took a punch while helmetless from Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins that got his opponent ejected. He always has shown his value as a blocker and his two TDs against the Rams were just the icing on the cake to a career trending up.

Shanahan isn't alone when he says Jennings inspires his teammates and coaches, and he believes the fans can feel it as well. 

"When you see guys play that way and have that attitude, it's very inspiring and makes you enjoy football just being around him," Shanahan said. "I think that's why people like watching him too.

"And he's helped us a ton."

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