SANTA CLARA -- 49ers defensive tackle Jullian Taylor saw significant playing time in the preseason, then had to wait until Week 12 to see his first NFL snap.
During the time in between, he tried not to concentrate on when he might play. Instead he looked forward to making the most of his opportunity.
“I didn’t really focus on that,” Taylor said. “I just knew when I went in there, that I wanted to leave a positive mark.”
While Taylor didn’t focus on when he might play, he did say that not getting onto the field until Week 12 did have its challenges.
“Of course it was hard from a competitive standpoint,” Taylor said. “Because you want to get looks out there, but other than that, I didn’t really take it personally. I just wanted to wait for my chance and I knew when I got out there, at that time, it was going to be right."
Taylor stood out in the preseason, registering two sacks, two quarterback hits and four total tackles over four games. One sack came in the first game against the Cowboys and the second in the final game against the Chargers.
It appeared Taylor was headed for a role on the defense once the regular season started, but coach Kyle Shanahan and coordinator Robert Saleh showed tempered opinions of their young lineman.
After the first preseason game, Shanahan was complimentary of Taylor’s first performance.
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“He made a lot of plays that everyone saw,” Shanahan said. “And he also did his job, didn’t make many mental mistakes. He played a lot, which we needed him to. I thought he played good throughout the whole game.”
Saleh had similarly positive comments about Taylor’s first preseason appearance.
“I thought Jullian did a good job,” Saleh said. “He competed. He represented all of the things that he has shown throughout practice, and that’s violence, that relentlessness that we like.
“Again, I know there’s a lot of exciting things for him and he made a lot of plays, but in this league, nobody really cares about what you did yesterday. It’s all about what you do today and the next day and the next day after that, so he’s got to continue to stack up great days and get better at what we’re trying to work with him.”
When Taylor described finally getting a chance to play in in Tampa, he remained reserved but positive.
“It was unexplainable, to be honest,” Taylor said. “I was just happy to be out there with the guys and be as one unit, and have the opportunity to do something positive. It was fun. It was better than what I expected and everything I expected, being in an actual game.”
When asked about Shanahan’s end-of-season goals for the team, Taylor said he already sees the remainder of the season in the same fashion.
“That’s already my mindset,” Taylor said. “So when he said that, it was kind of preaching to the choir. It’s a job interview every day in the league. If someone didn’t get it before, I’m sure they got it then.”
Taylor’s most poignant statement came when he was asked what he learned about himself in his NFL debut.
He simply replied, “That I belong out there.”