SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The 49ers' draft situation might sound eerily familiar: 30th overall pick in hand, coming off an NFC Championship game loss, in need of a speedy wide receiver.
Uh oh, cue up A.J. Jenkins 2.0?
In 2012, they drafted Jenkins out of Illinois, then traded him away 16 months later after a zero-catch rookie season.
How is general manager Trent Baalke planning to avoid Jenkins redux? For one, Baalke wants his wide receivers with "a little swagger," which will be a necessary trait if they intend to catch Colin Kaepernick's blistering passes.
"You're looking for confidence. You're looking for guys where the stage isn't too big," Baalke said recently. "You're looking for strong men, both in how they play and how they come across.
"It's a battle out there. When you're at that position and trying to get yourself freed up in the land of the giants, it's a battle and you have to be prepared for it, mentally and physically."
Jenkins' unproductive rookie season resulted in his deportation to the Kansas City Chiefs. That deal yielded Jon Baldwin, who was inactive most of 2013 and is poised to lose his roster spot to whatever wideout the 49ers select early in this week's draft.
Starters Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree are still in place, but the 49ers' wideout depth remains an annual concern, one that can be addressed among their 11 upcoming draft picks.
Waiting for that receiver at No. 30 didn't pan out well in 2012. Moving up the draft board is in Baalke's repertoire, but how high might he go and how many draft picks is he willing to swap?
"If you go up to get a receiver, you probably go up to get Odell Beckham Jr. (from LSU) or Brandin Cooks from Oregon State," ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. said. "I'm not talking about moving up into the top (wideout) group to get Sammy Watkins (from Clemson) or Mike Evans (from Texas A&M)."
After that quartet of wideouts, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock sees Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin and USC's Marqise Lee as other first-round options.
Baalke also might be intrigued by Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews (his mom is a second cousin of Jerry Rice), Fresno State's Davante Adams (Palo Alto High product) and Indiana's Cody Latimer.
Attrition has taken its toll on the 49ers' receiving corps over the seasons, to say nothing of personnel choices that simply haven't panned out, such as Jenkins' selection.
In their past three season finales, the 49ers' No. 3 wide receivers were unheralded and unimposing: Brett Swain (2011), Kyle Williams (2012) and Quinton Patton (2013).
Patton showed glimpses of play-making ability in an injury-strewn rookie year. Competing with him for the No. 3 role this season will be Brandon Lloyd, who's coming off a one-year hiatus, and surely an early-round draft prospect.
Simply put, the 49ers need more options. Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis accounted for 23 of the team's 24 touchdown receptions last season, including all three in the playoffs. Crabtree had the other touchdown after returning from Achilles surgery.
The need for a down-field threat to stretch defenses is the most common critique of the 49ers' receiving corps. Baalke, however, is taking more into account.
The 49ers' next great wideout must be capable of running all the different routes, lining up in various spots and, of course, playing hard-nosed football.
"There's good receivers that play small. There's 6-1 guys that play 5-foot-10," Baalke said. "Can they go get the ball, play the ball? There's so many things that factor into it.
"Then you try to get them to marry into your system. Systems matter. Some people maybe don't agree, but I'm a firm believer systems matter. That's why our players tend to look similar at positions. There's a reason for that."
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