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Can 49ers end streak of mostly bad wide receiver draft picks?

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The 49ers have drafted at least one receiver each of the last 15 years, and it has not turned out well.

The San Francisco 49ers selected wide receiver Trent Taylor this past weekend with the Denver Broncos fifth round pick acquired in the Kapri Bibbs trade. Kyle Shanahan said that the specific trait that will benefit the 49ers is Taylor’s work in the slot.

“What Trent did is I thought he was as good at the slot role as anyone that we were looking at in the draft, is he really owned that spot. He was very quick. His body’s always under him. He can make cuts. I thought what impressed me the most about him besides the separation ability is that when he did get the ball in his hands, he ran angry and pissed off. He got up the field. He’s not scared to get hit. He’s a very competitive, violent runner and those are the guys to me who keep you on the field and move the chains.”

Taylor joins a depth chart that includes Pierre Garçon, Jeremy Kerley, Marquise Goodwin, and Aldrick Robinson, among others. There are some intriguing short term opportunities with this group, but numerous question marks for the long-term.

Over the weekend, ESPN 49ers writer Nick Wagoner had an interesting fact related to the 49ers drafting wide receivers. This marks the 15th straight year the 49ers have drafted a wide receiver

I imagine there are other teams that have drafted a wide receiver or another position fairly regularly over the past 15 years. But it is interesting to look at the list of receivers the 49ers have drafted during that time.

2017: Trent Taylor (5th)
2016: Aaron Burbridge (6th)
2015: DeAndre Smelter (4th)
2014: Bruce Ellington (4th)
2013: Quinton Patton (4th)
2012: A.J. Jenkins (1st)
2011: Ronald Johnson (6th)
2010: Kyle Williams (6th)
2009: Michael Crabtree (1st)
2008: Josh Morgan (6th)
2007: Jason Hill (3rd)
2006: Brandon Williams (3rd)
2005: Rasheed Marshall (5th), Marcus Maxwell (5th)
2004: Rashaun Woods (1st), Derrick Hamilton (4th)
2003: Brandon Lloyd (4th), Arnaz Battle (6th)

It’s been a rough go of things. Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd were arguably the two most successful receivers. Josh Morgan was intriguing for a while. Arnaz Battle was not awful, but was best suited on a bad team. Other than that, there’s not a lot to show for 15 years of receivers.

We don’t really know what Kyle Shanahan will be able to do with this offense, and the changes moving forward. He was hired in large part because of his offensive wizardry, but it’s a clean slate in Santa Clara. The team will does not have any clear long-term answers for the WR position. Taylor will be an intriguing slot option, and UDFA addition K.D. Cannon is a guy that folks think has a whole lot of upside.

Will we finally start to see the team find some success drafting receivers? It was always viewed as an Achilles heel for Trent Baalke, but the team’s problems drafting decent receivers dates to before Baalke. Prior to Michael Crabtree, the last receiver the 49ers drafted who was really good for them was Terrell Owens, selected in 1996. It’s been just a little while!