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Jauan Jennings is an Early Standout from OTAs

He looks slim, strong and explosive, and he's playing with the starters.
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If it didn't have to do with an injury or a quarterback, you probably didn't hear about it during 49ers OTAs. But there's one young player who has completely transformed himself from a year ago.

Wide receiver Jauan Jennings is the early standout of the 49ers spring training program. He looks slim, strong and explosive, and he's playing with the starters.

The 49ers draft Jennings in Round 7 last year, presumably to have him replace Kendrick Bourne this year. They're both big slot receivers. But Jennings struggled big time last year during the offseason, perhaps because the pandemic cancelled mini-camp, rookie mini-camp and OTAs. 

When Jennings arrived at training camp last July, he looked slow and out of shape. Like a low-level undrafted free agent. And he struggled to get open and catch passes. So the 49ers waived at the end of camp and he spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad.

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Expectations for Jennings coming into this offseason couldn't have been any lower. And yet, he looks like he has transformed his body more than any other player. 

Last year, Jennings couldn't beat hardly anyone. This year, in a seven-on-seven drill, Jennings ran past starting nickelback K'Waun Williams and made a long catch down the middle of the field seem easy. Reached up and grabbed the ball with his hands without breaking stride.

Jennings seems like the early favorite to be the 49ers' slot receiver in 2021. Of course, if 2019 third-round pick Jalen Hurd gets healthy and stays healthy, he could be the slot receiver. But Hurd isn't healthy, and Jennings is. 

And he looks terrific.