Pierre Garcon is Mr. Reliable. Marquise Goodwin has elite speed as a deep threat. Dante Pettis comes into the NFL with the potential to make big plays.
As the 49ers head toward training camp – rookies and veterans are scheduled to begin reporting on July 25 – Garcon, Goodwin and Pettis are likely to be the headliners of the wide receiver corps. Yet second-year man Trent Taylor is expected to be the team’s No. 1 slot receiver.
After catching 48 passes as a rookie in 2017, the 5-foot-8 former Louisiana Tech standout hopes to build on what he did in his opening act as a professional player.
Taylor showed he’s reliable in the clutch and quick enough to make gains after catching short throws from Jimmy Garoppolo. Taylor and Garoppolo made for a good combination late in the season. Taylor’s overall catch rate was a terrific 71.7 percent. On 60 passes aimed his way, he caught 43. He was even better late in games.
How good was Taylor in the clutch?
This week, Ben Cooper of the analytic website Pro Football Focus included Taylor at No. 4 among all NFL receivers in fourth-quarter or overtime performance in 2017.
Wrote Cooper: “Taylor wasn’t the flashiest rookie of 2017, but he made his mark through consistent play that gave his team a chance to win games. Both of his touchdowns in 2017 came in the fourth quarter and both were because of his shiftiness. On both plays, Taylor found pockets of space and gave his quarterback a reliable option to punch it in late in a game. That reliability was evident in his 4Q/OT catch rate, which was fourth among receivers (80 percent).
“With Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, Taylor was a perfect 6-for-6 in 4Q/OT catches, with one touchdown. Look for Taylor to become a favorite of Garoppolo’s as they develop even more chemistry in 2018.”