SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers' offense was highly productive during Wednesday's practice, and Jimmy Garoppolo's chemistry with two of his favorite receivers was a big reason why.
Garoppolo opened up red zone drills completing four passes in a row for touchdowns. Two went to tight end George Kittle, and wide receiver Trent Taylor hauled in the other two.
Taylor and Garoppolo are showing glimpses of what they were able to do at the end of the 2017 season. In Garoppolo's first five 49ers starts, Taylor had more catches (17) than all but two Niners: Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (20 receptions) and fullback Kyle Juszczyk (17).
Now that both players are healthy, they've picked up their rapport during training camp. Garoppolo said Taylor makes things easier for him, thanks to the receiver's unique perspective.
"We stay after practice and we talk through some stuff every day, run a couple extra routes," Garoppolo said Wednesday. "I think those little things like that, just talking the same language and seeing the defense the same way. He has a unique ability of seeing the defense like a quarterback and not many receivers can do that. It’s a nice luxury to have.”
In his return to the field after tearing his ACL in Week 3 of the 2018 season, Garoppolo said that he’s building trust with each of his receivers. The more time that they spend working together, the more the group grows.
Garoppolo regularly stays after practice with a few receivers, and he said he uses what happened during previous sessions to guide his approach.
“The day before, the night before, I kind of go through my notes and find out what I’m trying to work on with certain guys and what needs urgency and what doesn’t type thing, I guess,” Garoppolo said. “I think [the sessions] are tremendous.
“It’s an opportunity when the coaches aren’t there for us to talk the same language, and like I said, see the defense the same way. It’s good so that they know what I’m thinking and I know what they’re thinking, really.”
Garoppolo has to re-develop chemistry with the entire group in his return from injury, but also will have to contend with the lack of a true No. 1 wide receiver. Kittle was one of the most prolific tight ends in the league last season, but the 49ers' receivers are largely unproven.
Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd are unproven rookies, and Dante Pettis showed flashes during his rookie season. Goodwin struggled in 2018 after an impressive first season with the 49ers, while Jordan Matthews, Kendrick Bourne and Richie James are competing for various spots.
Because of the uncertainty at the position, Garoppolo must know the specific strengths and responsibilities of each of his receivers, as well as how each comes out of their breaks.
“I think just getting the timing down with each guy,” Garoppolo said. “When you’re in the huddle, you have to see who you’re with. If you’re calling an individual route, you’ve got to see who’s on that individual route.
“Things can get jumbled and mixed up a little bit, but that’s what training camp is for. Injuries are going to happen throughout the season, so you’ve got to be able to react to that stuff.”
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday that no clear front-runner had emerged among the team's receivers, and said he was "still waiting on" one of them to separate from the rest of the pack. Garoppolo said he didn't see a front-runner, either, but is happy to spread the ball around.
“I trust all of them,” Garoppolo said. “Each guy, I think this time of year, is good for earning that trust and them the same with me. They’ve got to trust me the same I’ve got to trust them. Those guys have been doing a good job with that.”
Garoppolo will not play in the 49ers' preseason opener Saturday at Levi's Stadium, but is set to play in the second and third preseason games. Those will provide his first game action since tearing his ACL on Sept. 23, 2018.
Still, Garoppolo is not looking forward to those games most as the preseason rolls on. He said joint practices with the Denver Broncos, whom the 49ers will play in their second preseason game on Aug. 19, will be a welcome change of pace from practicing against his teammates.
“Yeah, I prefer it,” Garoppolo said. “Especially, I mean you see different looks, new defense. You get to this point in camp and the defense knows our calls, we know their calls type of thing and it kind of becomes repetitive. But, whenever you get that chance, you know, juices kick up, the competition kicks up, it’s exciting.”