Finally healthy, Trent Taylor was expected to be a major contributor for the 49ers this season, but that's not how things have panned out through the first seven weeks. Though he has been active for every game, Taylor only has six receptions for 45 yards.
But Taylor's lack of involvement in the passing game to this point isn't a reflection of any dissatisfaction the 49ers have with him. Rather, as coach Kyle Shanahan explained on Monday, it's a product of the improved depth San Francisco has at the receiver position (h/t 49ers Webzone).
"Yeah, Trent is healthy," Shanahan told reporters. "I definitely could find more ways to [get him more involved in the offense]. I've got a lot of respect for Trent, and I have a lot of confidence in Trent. I thought he got a couple of more opportunities earlier on this year, but we think [Kendrick Bourne] has played at a high level, and we thought he played at a very high level last year, too. And once [Deebo Samuel] and [Brandon Aiyuk] got healthy, and they got back, it was a tough decision."
It has been a few years since Taylor established himself as one of Jimmy Garoppolo's favorite targets, and the 49ers have been reaping the rewards of the investments they made at the receiver position in the meantime. Aiyuk currently leads the team in receiving yards in his rookie season, while Bourne isn't far behind. Samuel missed the first three games of the season due to injury, but has been a standout over the last four weeks.
"We didn't want to have to take Bourne off the field," Shanahan continued. "We thought he had earned that, and he does some good things in what we call the 'F' role that Trent does, too. So, it wasn't really as much about Trent. It was about Aiyuk and Deebo coming back, and we felt that KB had earned the right to stay out there.
"Trent has still been our fourth guy, using him and Richie (James), depending on the spots, and we get them in there. But any time that does happen, you lose a lot of your opportunities. But I know Trent's ready. Once his opportunity comes up, my confidence in Trent hasn't changed at all. It's just been more about the other guys."
Samuel sustained a hamstring injury in the 49ers' 33-6 win over the New England Patriots and is expected to miss at least the next two weeks. With the 49ers having two huge games over that span against the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, Taylor could soon get the opportunity he has been waiting for.