Andy Reid’s patience with wide receiver Jon Baldwin seemed to be running out over the weekend. Reid was clearly becoming frustrated with repeated dropped passes and otherwise unproductive play from Baldwin, a starter and the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick in 2011.
“I don’t know about any crisis and all that,’’ Reid said then when asked whether Baldwin had lost all of his confidence. “I can tell you that when given the opportunity in this league, you’d better catch the football.’’
Reid’s comment foreshadowed the move made by the Chiefs on Monday when they gave up on Baldwin. They traded him to San Francisco for A.J. Jenkins, another unproductive wide receiver once drafted in the first round.
Jenkins played in only three games for the 49ers last season and didn’t catch a pass.
“We felt like this trade was beneficial for all parties involved,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said in a statement released by the Chiefs. “A.J. is a talented individual with a skillset that we feel can add value to our football team. Jon Baldwin is a hardworking player and a professional. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”
Despite another dropped pass and no catches against San Francisco in last week’s preseason game, Baldwin was still in the starting lineup at practice on Sunday. The Chiefs did not practice on Monday.
Free-agent addition Donnie Avery was listed by the Chiefs as the new starter in Baldwin’s place. Avery is faster than Baldwin and caught 60 passes last season for Indianapolis.
Devon Wylie is listed as the leading backup at that spot. Jenkins is listed behind him.
The Chiefs drafted Baldwin when Scott Pioli was their general manager and Todd Haley their head coach. Baldwin’s time with the Chiefs got off to a bad start when he broke his hand during a training camp fight with a teammate, running back Thomas Jones.
Baldwin missed the first five games of his rookie season. He eventually made it back that year but caught only 21 passes and scored one touchdown.
That season was still statistically better for Baldwin than 2012, when he played in 15 games but caught 20 passes with one touchdown.
This year he never seemed to be much of a fit in the West Coast offensive system brought by Reid, the Chiefs’ new head coach. He didn’t catch a pass in either of the two preseason games and he appeared to be getting down on himself.
“The only way you get out if he is in a slump . . . I don’t think he is, I just think he needs to continue to focus and detail his work,’’ offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said before Baldwin’s last practice with the Chiefs on Sunday. “(Quarterback Alex Smith) has the utmost trust in him. He’s still going to throw him the football and you slowly work yourself out of it if he’s down from drops or mental errors or whatever it is.
“You continue to work hard. You just press on. We always talk about short-term memory, and you have to have it in this business and move on.’’
The trade for Jenkins is an effort by both teams to try to salvage something from a bad situation. The 49ers were perhaps even more disappointed by Jenkins than the Chiefs by Baldwin.
Jenkins, at 6 feet and 200 pounds, isn’t as big as the 6-4, 230-pound Baldwin. But he is faster.
Jenkins played for the 49ers against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium last week. He had two passes thrown his way but didn’t have any catches.
The Chiefs’ decision to move on from Baldwin was no doubt influenced by their inability to get the ball to either of their starting wide receivers. The Chiefs re-signed Dwayne Bowe during the offseason to a lucrative, long-term contract, but Bowe also didn’t catch a pass in either of the first two preseason games.
“I’m not concerned at all,’’ Bowe said. “It’s preseason. We’re trying to figure out what other guys can do. My main goal is to make plays. I can do that anytime. Coach knows it as well. I’m just waiting for my opportunity.’’
Smith indicated he was trying to get the ball to Bowe.
“He’s getting a lot of attention out there,’’ Smith said. “Coverages dictate where I’m throwing the ball. He’s certainly a guy that demands a lot of respect out there and he’s getting it.’’