In his rookie season, receiver Trent Taylor was a very pleasant surprise for San Francisco- his stats may not jump out of the page at you, but he was extremely effective. The 2017 version of Trent Taylor was a reliable third-down target, essentially playing the “Wes Welker” role of being a shifty, short, white guy who can consistently move the chains.
Considering he was a fifth-round pick with little publicity, this was a welcome sign for coach Kyle Shanahan and for 49ers fans. Then came 2018, and with it the disappearance of a once-promising slot receiver. Rookie Richie James, who stepped in sporadically throughout the season to play both slot receiver and return punts, has a lot of upside with his burst and quickness, but struggled fielding punts and was unable to become a consistent target for the 49ers, and Dante Pettis, although he played some slot as well, is better suited for an outside receiver role.
Due to these aforementioned circumstances, Trent Taylor will be an integral figure in whether the 49ers can get over the hump in 2019.
Crazy, right? Almost all of these were on 3rd down, and what made him so dangerous is it didn’t matter if it was 3rd and 2 or 3rd and 10, he was still making the play necessary to get the first down.
His YAC ability is also outstanding, as he and Jimmy Garoppolo quickly developed a great rapport, and Jimmy was able to hit him in stride, often allowing him to get away from the defense and pick up extra yards.
Heading into the 2018 season, fans were high on Taylor, but a devastating back injury forced him to miss the entire offseason, which in turn caused him to have what I would consider being a mostly lost year, as Trent finished with only 215 yards. So what can we expect from him next year?
Kyle Shanahan was asked about Taylor with two weeks left in the season and has high hopes for him moving forward.
“When you miss an entire offseason, even if you get somewhat healthy, your legs aren’t quite there. Trent has battled that throughout the whole year. I will say in these last couple weeks, it’s starting to come back for him. He has been better…But I expect him to get back to where he was last year when we start back up in the offseason. If he does, Trent is made of the right stuff. He’s a very good football player,” Shanahan told reporters.
Taylor is now healthy heading into the offseason, and big things are coming for him in 2019. With the now-established superstar that is George Kittle demanding tons of coverage and attention, Taylor will be able to run free in the short middle portion of the field where he had so much success in his rookie season.
Dante Pettis continuing to grow and become better in this offense will only serve to help Taylor’s growth as well, and considering much of Shanahan’s playbook is based on quick hitting plays designed to create yards after the catch, 2019 will be a big comeback year for Taylor.
Get excited, Niner fans. The best is yet to come!