The 49ers’ recent inking of veteran cornerback Jamar Taylor could potentially solve some depth concerns behind nickel back K’Waun Williams.
In an ideal world, the San Francisco 49ers would have only needed to sign veteran defensive back Jamar Taylor as a training camp body, someone to compete with the depth behind the presumed starter at nickel cornerback, K’Waun Williams in 2020.
But that wasn’t exactly the context when the Niners inked Taylor to a one-year deal in early July. Instead, the move helped alleviate what could potentially be a season-ending pectoral injury suffered by third-year veteran defensive back D.J. Reed, who could easily start the year on injured reserve or the PUP list. Reed acted as Williams’ main backup the past two years and was pegged for the same role again this season.
With Reed out for at least three months, Taylor now comes to the focus after being quite the journeyman cornerback since the Miami Dolphins selected him in Round 2 of the 2013 NFL Draft.
|3 yr||3 yr||MIA||33||9||0||0||0||0||4||0||1||31||0.0||82||68||14||3||0|
|2 yr||2 yr||CLE||31||29||3||43||0||29||23||1||0||0||0.5||119||94||25||3||2|
|1 yr||1 yr||ARI||10||3||0||0||0||0||1||0.0||2||0||0|
|1 yr||1 yr||DEN||4||0||1||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|1 yr||1 yr||SEA||9||0||0||0||0||0||3||0.0||4||0||0|
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Taylor now has an inside track to make San Francisco’s 53-man roster almost by default. The Niners don’t have too many bodies at cornerback, especially ones with practical NFL experience.
Yet Taylor isn’t exactly someone the team would want to rely upon regularly.
Niner Noise’s “Who Is?” series explores whether or not Taylor can have a resurgent campaign with the 49ers in 2020.
Why Jamar Taylor improves with 49ers in 2020
Note Taylor’s nine-game stint with the Seattle Seahawks last season. The Seahawks run a nearly identical Cover 3 zone-style defensive scheme, meaning Taylor won’t have to learn too much of anything new with San Francisco.
That bodes well for him, considering he registered all three of his pass breakups last year with Seattle.
And it isn’t as if Taylor is immune to making some noteworthy plays:
Taylor has also been a good run defender over his career, notching Pro Football Focus grades north of 74 in both 2017 and 2018 with the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos.
Knowledge of both the Seahawks and Cardinals’ defensive tendencies also benefits his fit with the 49ers, too.
Why Jamar Taylor regresses with 49ers in 2020
It’s one thing to regularly find a home at the NFL level, but Taylor’s constant travels around the league raises the same questions about why he hasn’t been able to latch on anywhere for any lengthy period of time.
Sure, his brief tenure in Seattle has its merits. But PFF credited him with a 39.0 overall grade during his 10 games played with the Seahawks. So it’s not as if he totally mastered that system, although his run-stopping efforts during that time were still good enough (62.6).
What’s important to note, though, is opposing quarterbacks posted a solid 98.8 passer rating when targeting Taylor during his Seahawks tenure.
That’s a huge difference between the 80.6 rating allowed by Williams in 2019.
Chances of making 49ers’ 53-man roster
If Reed was still in the picture, Taylor would be a long shot. Although it’s entirely possible Reed returns at some point during the regular season, relegating Taylor to a no-longer-needed commodity.
In the interim, though, Taylor stands a good chance to make the cut as Williams’ main backup to open the season. It’s possible the Niners do some shifting within the secondary, potentially moving defensive backs Jimmie Ward, Emmanuel Moseley or Jason Verrett to cover the slot in the wake of a would-be Williams injury. But Ward is best suited as a free safety, while Moseley is pegged for starting duties at boundary cornerback. Verrett, meanwhile, can’t stay healthy.
As such, Taylor has to be viewed as being on the bubble, but he’s surely on the stronger side here. If he impresses enough during training camp, it’ll be hard for Saleh and his staff to overlook him and risk not having an experienced backup to fill in for Williams if needed.
Once Reed returns, however, Taylor’s spot on the roster is about as precarious as it could be.