When it comes to judging NFL wide receivers, Richard Sherman has some credentials.
The former All-Pro cornerback with Seattle, starting his second season with the 49ers, has excelled while guarding some of the league’s best pass catchers.
Now Sherman is giving the 49ers’ wide receivers high marks for what they’ve done so far in training camp.
In an interview with radio station KNBR this week, Sherman said he expects Dante Pettis to take a huge step forward in his second season and also spoke highly of rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd and veterans Jordan Matthews and Marquise Goodwin.
But his take on third-year pro Trent Taylor was the most surprising.
Taylor caught 43 passes over 15 games his first season in 2017, but then caught just 41 in 2018, with his average per catch dropping to 8.3 yards from 10.0 in 2017. Though Taylor played 14 games in 2018, he was hampered from the start by a back injury.
Now, Taylor is fit and healthy and looks like a different player. It’s possible Taylor, a 5-foot-10, 180-pounder, could be the starter in the slot.
Sherman believes Taylor will be a revelation in 2019.
“Taylor, man, is light years ahead of where he was last year,” said Sherman. “He’s back, growing from his rookie year when he had that incredible year. This year, his back isn’t hurting him. You can see his explosion, his dynamic, his suddenness.
“He’ll probably catch 80, 90 balls, I would assume. I’m excited to see it.”
In one practice this week, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo twice connected with Taylor for touchdowns in red-zone situations. And, Rob Lowder of SB Nation noted that Taylor has “become a go-to target all over the field for all three 49ers quarterbacks.”
Taylor earlier this year said “I feel like my back is back to normal now.” He said he’s ready to have a “great season.”
His first opportunity to show what he can do will come Saturday, when the 49ers open the exhibition season vs. the Dallas Cowboys at 6 p.m. at Levi’s Stadium.