The San Francisco 49ers have gotten extensive production from their 2017 rookie class, and we have another metric supporting that. Wide receiver Trent Taylor was lost for an undetermined time with a broken rib, but prior to his injury, he was among the more productive rookie wide receivers in the NFL.
Prior to his injury, Taylor was tied for second in receptions and was third in receptions among rookie receivers. Pro Football Focus offered a little nuance to his work at receiver. They track receiver routes to provide grades and analysis, and they listed Taylor as the NFL’s best pass catcher running slant routes.
It'd be easy to go with Dez Bryant, who gained the most yards on slant routes and did so from the outside receiver position. But Taylor's nine receptions on nine slant targets and 148.6 passer rating generated are hard to ignore. The rookie led the nation in yards gained from the slot in his last season at Louisiana Tech and has continued to produce for the 49ers this season with all nine of his slant catches coming from the slot. He has been the league's top wideout on slant targets this season.
Taylor was not putting up huge yardage totals, but he is developing into a solid weapon for the 49ers. More importantly, he is a multi-dimensional threat, ranking eighth in the NFL in punt return average.
Taylor’s absence will be felt, but he is providing one more reason to be excited about the future. His rib injury does not have a specific timetable for return, but Kyle Shanahan said they hope to have him back “later in the season.” He did not practice last week, and will be one to watch next week on the practice participation report.