Jauan Jennings had to wait longer than expected to hear his named called in the 2020 NFL Draft, but it was called nevertheless.
One of the all-time fan favorites of Tennessee fans, Jennings was drafted in the seventh round by the San Francisco 49ers as the 217th overall pick in the draft on Saturday. He joins a pair of names in the Bay Area that are familiar to Vol fans. Former Tennessee corner Emmanuel Moseley starts for the 49ers while former Vol running back and Baylor wide receiver Jalen Hurd will be in the same meeting room as Jennings.
Jennings has yet to connect with Moseley or Hurd after being drafted, as he has “been too excited jumping around the house with the family.”
“With Jalen Hurd, I haven’t gotten to talk to him yet, but we’re all friends,” Jennings said with the San Francisco media shortly after being drafted. “Emmanuel Moseley, I can’t wait to see my bro, E-man. It’s been forever. Definitely a lot of excitement there.”
Jennings described his conversation with the 49ers as “quick and snappy,” but was quick to recall the special run to the Super Bowl the team just completed.
San Francisco is coming off of a 13-3 season, marking the franchise’s best finish since 2011. With an 8-0 start to the season, the 49ers surpassed their season win total from the 2016, 2017, and 2018 seasons combined. They would go on to win the NFC West and lose a close contest to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.
“I’ve seen the playoff run they made, which was incredible,” Jennings said. “Of course I tuned in.
“I’m just excited to get there and be a part of the great team that they already have. For me to come in, it’s a blessing, and I’m extremely grateful and cannot wait to go work my butt off for them. They gave me a chance, and I’m going to do my best not to disappoint.”
In Jennings’ final season as a Vol, the Murfreesboro, Tennessee native caught a team-high 59 passes for 969 yards and eight touchdowns. He finished his career as one of the best Vols to ever play the wide receiver position. Jennings is fifth all-time at UT in receptions (146), fourth in receiving yards (2,153) and is tied for fifth in touchdown receptions (18).
Jennings isn’t known as a burner, but his level of physicality is an aspect of his game that 49ers general manager John Lynch covets. The redshirt senior led all FBS wideouts in 2019 with 30 broken tackles according to Pro Football Focus College. With that physicality in mind, and the way he positions his body, Jennings compares himself to former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall and current Cleveland Browns receiver Jarvis Landry.
When you pair him with what San Francisco already has on offense, Jennings can’t wait to bring his physical play to San Francisco.
“Definitely going to bring that physicality to every game,” Jennings said. “That’s always been a part of me. That’s not just in the blocking game, because I do love to block, but it’s also when it comes to me catching the ball. I’m a great receiver after the catch, and I take pride in that. I believe in myself to be able to do that at a high level.
“It’s just going to be hard to stop us in my mind. We’ve got a lot of weapons, and I just can’t wait to go out there and help.”