Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but you get the idea.
The San Francisco 49ers have Carlos Hyde starting at running back, but questions persist up and down the running back depth chart. Hyde is coming off a season-ending foot injury, and the rest of the 2015 options had their share of issues. The team added a running back in the draft, selecting Florida’s Kelvin Taylor in the sixth round.
Taylor did not become Florida’s starting back until his junior season. In 2013, he backed up Mack Brown, playing in nine games and rushing 111 times for 508 yards (4.6 ypc) and four touchdowns. In 2014, he backed up now NFL running back Matt Jones, played in all 12 games and rushed 116 times for 565 yards (4.9 ypc) and six touchdowns. This past season, he rushed 259 times for 1,035 yards (4.0 ypc) and 13 touchdowns. His numbers were not spectacular, but a little snooping around indicates Florida had problems on the offensive line, and he went through three offensive coordinators in as many seasons. Taylor was only the ninth Gators running back to surpass 1,000 yards, and Jones had nothing but praise for him.
Taylor is the son of Fred Taylor, so the genes are certainly a plus, and scouting reports suggest he has the football knowledge you might expect from the son of an NFL running back. At the same time, there are concerns he has maxed out physically, and that he lacks the speed and power to be an every down effective running back. Of course, with Carlos Hyde starting and some veteran options on the team, Taylor is not going to be more than a complementary back at this point.
Was the second of three sixth round draft picks (211th overall) in this year’s draft out of the University of Florida. In three seasons with the Gators, he appeared in 37 games and rushed for 2,108 yards and 23 touchdowns on 486 carries. In 2015, Taylor rushed for 1,035 yards and 13 touchdowns on 259 carries, while adding 17 receptions for 150 yards. He became the ninth player in school history to rush for 1,000-or-more yards in a season and his 259 carries were the second-most in school history. In 2014, Taylor played in 12 games and rushed for 565 yards and six touchdowns on 116 carries. In 2013, he was selected to the Freshman All-SEC Team and Honorable Mention All-Freshman by College Football News as he played in 11 games and rushed for 508 yards and four touchdowns on 111 carries. A 22-year old native of Belle Glade, FL, Taylor attended Glades Day High School in Belle Glade.
Age: 22 (23 on September 28)
Weight: 205 lbs
Taylor signed his rookie four-year contract in May. If he makes the 49ers 53-man roster, he will earn a base salary of $450,000, and have a cap hit of $475,089.
What to expect in 2016
I suspect Taylor gets a lot of late game work in the preseason. I would not be at all surprised to see him or Mike Davis lead the team in preseason rushing yards. If Taylor has a solid preseason, no matter what point in the games he is playing, people are definitely going to get excited. He strikes me as a prime candidate for overreaction. That’s not to say he can’t be an effective running back for the 49ers, but the pedigree for a guy who was still just a sixth round pick will make for interesting reactions during the preseason.
If he makes the roster, it’s hard to say what specific opportunity he would have as a rookie. The 49ers also have Shaun Draughn, DuJuan Harris, and Mike Davis competing for opportunities. It’s hard to say who would get what work in that situation. Taylor would likely get some work, but as with all late round rookies, special teams would be his best chance to make a significant impact.
Odds of making the roster
I have him listed as strong bubble. Sixth round picks are not locks, but the 49ers have enough questions of their depth that I doubt he does not make the roster. That being said, there’s enough competition that he is not a lock. Davis, Harris, and Draughn could all end up with spots behind Hyde, and that could be enough to leave the 49ers trying to move him to their practice squad. I would be a bit surprised by that, but it would not be the most shocking development. My preferred grouping would be Hyde, Davis, Harris, and Taylor. Draughn was a very capable replacement last year after Hyde and Bush went down, but the upside is too limited at this point. I’d prefer going younger to see what they’ve got.