Throughout offseason workouts and summer training camp, Trent Taylor looked terrific. The 5-foot-8 wide receiver from Louisiana Tech was quick, sure-handed and a good route runner.
But it wasn’t really until the 13th game of his rookie season – in last weekend’s victory over the Chicago Bears – that the 49ers’ fifth-round pick showed that he could be a significant piece of this team’s offense.
Taylor and new starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo showed a strong chemistry against the Bears, with Garoppolo throwing his way six times. Taylor — operating out of the slot — made all six catches for 92 yards, a 15.3-yard average. Plus five of those catches were on third down and produced first downs. His other catch, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com, also resulted in a first down. That’s tremendous productivity, and it helped the 49ers offense stay on the field and get into position for five Robbie Gould field goals and a 15-14 victory.
For the season, Taylor has 32 catches on 46 targets for 331 yards and a touchdown. He’s also returned 22 punts for 206 yards, a 9.4-yard average.
His game against Chicago was especially strong considering he’d been sick all night before with what may have been food poisoning.
His biggest catch against the Bears went for 33 yards on the game-winning drive, when he broke away after catching a pass on third-and-9 from the San Francisco 49 with just over two minutes to play in the game.
“Trent stepped up for sure, especially on third down,” Garoppolo told reporters. “He and (Marquise Goodwin) made some crucial plays for us, really, especially at the end there with Trent stepping up like that. Whenever you see that, especially in a young guy like that, it’s impressive.”
As the 49ers prepare this week to face the Texans in Houston Sunday – hoping to improve their 2-11 record – there’s reason to believe the Garoppolo-Taylor connection against the Bears may be a preview of coming attractions.
Said Taylor of Garoppolo: “He’s good at hitting the spots and understands the game really well and it was great having him out there. It was just the beginning. We’ll see how we do.”
Kickoff Sunday in Houston is set for 10 a.m. in the Bay Area.