San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Trent Taylor returns to the field in 2020. His return will provide a much-needed boost for the Niners receiving corps and offense as a whole.
After the 2017 NFL season, the future seemed very promising for San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Trent Taylor. He finished his rookie campaign with 43 receptions for 430 yards and two touchdowns. He teamed with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who was acquired right before the trade deadline and made a big impact in the last five games of the season.
2018 looked to be Taylor’s breakout season. However, complications arose from his offseason back surgery and his breakout season turned into a sophomore slump. Then when 2019 rolled around, Taylor looked to have a triumphant return. But his season ended before it began with a foot injury.
Taylor missed the entire 2019 season. But after having a full season to heal, he will make his long-awaited return to the field in 2020. And it will boost an offense already chocked full of weapons, but severely needing helping in the receiving corps.
One big boost for the 49ers receiving corps with the return of Taylor is his chemistry with Garoppolo. When Garoppolo got his first start at quarterback for the 49ers in Week 13 of the 2017 season, Taylor had the best game of his career. In that game against the Chicago Bears, he had six receptions for 92 yards. Both of those stats were career highs.
Another number which jumps out from that game’s stat line is he was targeted six times, meaning he reeled in 100 percent of the balls thrown his way. He clicked instantly with Garoppolo and became a reliable target in the passing game.
When Taylor entered the league, the comparisons to former NFL slot receiver Wes Welker were ever-apparent. Most of it had to do with their similar appearance and stature. Welker is 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds. Taylor is 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds.
As fate would have it, Welker joined the 49ers coaching staff in 2019 as their wide receivers coach.
In Welker’s 12-year NFL career, he was named All-Pro twice and was a five-time Pro Bowler. And he was given a chance to impart his knowledge on a seemingly younger version of himself. Some of the benefits of having him around include being able to teach Taylor all the nuances of the position. All of those tips and tricks that made him one of the best slot receivers in the game during his 12 seasons.
And even though Taylor didn’t play at all in 2019 he was still learning. The proximity to Welker is a good omen for the 49ers wide receiver group as a whole, but specifically for Taylor. As he will work out of the slot just as Welker did.
Learning from one of the best points to the improvement Taylor should see in 2020. And that individual improvement should translate into improved efficiency for the 49ers offense as a whole.
Taylor coming back also provides the 49ers offense a much-needed boost on third downs. In 2017 he was an absolute beast at converting them. He had 19 third-down receptions which he converted to first downs. To put that into context, he was tied for first in that category for rookies and was ninth overall in the league among pass catchers.
The 49ers offense was not bad at third-down conversions in 2019. In fact, they were actually in the top five in that category. They came in right at No. 5 with a 45 percent conversion rate. The addition of Taylor back into this offense will only improve that number. He’ll provide Garoppolo a “safety blanket” of sorts on third-down, in addition to tight end George Kittle, who was that guy in 2019.
Although any evolution to Taylor’s game is yet to be evaluated, three immediate guiding factors offer evidence he will improve the 49ers receiving corps. His chemistry with Garoppolo, having Welker as a mentor and being a threat on third down are all a testament to the impact he will provide the 49ers offense.
Although anything can happen and nothing is guaranteed, the 2020 season looks to be a promising one for Taylor and his impact on the 49ers receiving corps and offense as a whole.