Kelvin Taylor didn’t wow anyone at the NFL Combine.
The former University of Florida standout running back didn’t have a great time in the 40-yard dash and isn’t physically imposing at 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds.
So – despite terrific production during his Gators career – Taylor fell down the draft boards and wasn’t selected until the 49ers took him in the sixth round, the 211th player overall.
But it’s possible the 49ers are getting a player whose performance will far exceed what he can do in shorts and a T-shirt and without pads and a helmet. The son of former NFL standout running back Fred Taylor has been a star at every level and those who know him believe he can be excellent in the NFL, too.
His former high school coach, Pete Walker, says Taylor proved his worth by excelling against elite competition in the Southeastern Conference. Walker told the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post that Taylor has a knack for picking up yards in heavy traffic.
“His ability to make you miss in a small space, and he could do it full speed,” he said. “He seems to get to full speed in about two or three steps and he has that side-step move. He has a great mix of skills even in a tight window.”
In his final season at Florida, Taylor carried the ball 259 times for 1,035 yards and 13 touchdowns while also catching 13 passes for 150 yards. In three seasons at Florida – on 486 carries and 24 catches – Taylor never fumbled.
Taylor says taking care of the football is something his father drilled into him.
“That’s one thing my dad always preached to me, ‘Do not put the ball on the ground, because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about – protecting the football,’ ” Taylor told a writer with the 49ers website. “I take very great pride in that.”
Kelvin Taylor has been compared by some to former Florida and NFL great Emmitt Smith, who was roughly the same size and also didn’t have terrific speed, but was good in traffic, tough and could find holes and bounce off tacklers.
Former Florida defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard told the Palm Beach Post that Taylor has “the best feet I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Now Taylor will get his shot to prove his doubters wrong. He may not have finished in the top 15 among draft-eligible running backs at the Combine in the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump or broad jump, but he believes he can be at his best when it’s a game situation.
He says his father has told him to make the most of his chance with the 49ers.
Said Taylor, to 49ers.com: “He was just telling me, ‘You have to embrace the process. You finally got your opportunity, now it’s time to make them pay for it. It’s time to go out there and start making plays and be the best football player you can be. … Start making plays and have fun doing it.' ”