The life as an NFL wide receiver hasn’t exactly been kind to former Pitt Panthers star Jon Baldwin, but hopefully he’ll take advantage of a second opportunity.
In a rare one-for-one NFL trade, Baldwin was shipped from the Kansas City Chiefs to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for wide receiver A.J. Jenkins.
Baldwin left Pitt after his junior season, but has been a bust at the NFL level after being a first-round pick of the Chiefs in 2011. He hasn’t lived up to the hype of a first-rounder, but has made a slight impact in the NFL, catching 41 passes for 579 yards and a pair of touchdowns over the last two years.
However it didn’t seem like Baldwin was going to fit in well with new Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
Reid mentioned Baldwin’s struggles to catch the football earlier in camp and the third-year pro had a bad drop in Kansas City’s preseason game against San Francisco on Friday, but that didn’t dissuade the 49ers from taking a shot on Baldwin’s natural talent, something he has a lot of.
With both Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree injured, the 49ers were looking for depth at the receiver position and need a vertical threat, which is Baldwin’s biggest asset.
But the question has always been can Baldwin produce consistently at any level?
He was notorious for taking plays off while in a Pitt uniform and has had his share of issues in his brief stint in the NFL. However there’s no doubting that Baldwin has the pure talent to produce in the NFL. Now it is just a matter of seeing if he can take advantage of what could be a golden opportunity.
Looking back, it is hard to fault Baldwin for leaving school early.
He did cash in as a first-rounder and given the fact that Todd Graham was taking over as the Pitt head coach and Tino Sunseri was still going to be under center for the Panthers, it is very likely that his stock would have dropped considerably.
Even though it is only his third year in the NFL, this could end up being Baldwin’s last shot to make a name for himself in the NFL.
He has been given a second chance. Now we will see what he does with it.