No. 5: SF 49ers WR Trent Taylor needs to play like a rookie
It wasn’t long ago when San Francisco 49ers 2017 draft pick wide receiver Trent Taylor was considered somewhat of a draft-day steal. Despite his small stature and tiny hands, Taylor was the Niners’ top third-down specialist, no matter which one of the team’s quarterbacks was under center.
Unfortunately, after missing extensive time due to multiple injuries, Taylor has become a shell of his former self, despite the plethora of praise he always receives before the beginning of each regular season. While his prior injury issues were physical in nature and likely resolved, Taylor’s mental game has regressed significantly, as the wideout struggled to find the first-down marker, and continuously ran poor third-down routes short of the sticks in Week 1 of the NFL regular season.
Due to Taylor’s poor play last Sunday, the trust between the receiver and his quarterback had begun to erode, which became evident by the end of the contest. Without that trust, the 49ers have little need for an oft-injured wide receiver who continues to regress — even when he manages to remain on the field.
This lack of trust appeared to play a significant role during the 49ers’ final drive, as the split-second Garoppolo took to assess the depth of Taylor’s fourth-down route provided Arizona’s secondary with just enough opportunity to prevent San Francisco’s former third-down specialist from achieving success and moving the chains.
Taylor ended the day with seven yards on five targets, including two total yards and no conversions on four third-down and fourth-down attempts. After finishing the contest with zero “Expected Points Added” (EPA) plays, and a touchdown-worth of Expected Points Removed — or negative EPA, depending on your verbiage preference — the hard-working fan-favorite needs to quickly reverse his downward trajectory, beginning on Sunday against the Jets.