SANTA CLARA — After a challenging sophomore season returning from back surgery, a productive OTAs and minicamp has 49ers receiver Trent Taylor set for a comeback in 2019.
Taylor has been very visible during the offseason program as opposed to last offseason when he was forced to sit out. The receiver-quarterback chemistry that was apparent when Jimmy Garoppolo first took his place under center in 2017, appears to be back in full swing.
“Yeah, definitely,” Garoppolo said Wednesday. “Trent’s so savvy. It’s awesome having a guy like that in the slot. He feels space differently than most guys.
“He knows his strengths and he knows his weaknesses and he’s going to do everything he can to make the weaknesses better. He doesn’t have many them, but it’s just when you have a guy like that it makes my job very easy.”
Quarterback Nick Mullens also has noticed the return of Taylor’s explosiveness. They have connected several times during team drills.
“One hundred percent,” Mullens said Wednesday. “I think people always refer back to Trent’s rookie year when he kind of burst onto the scene and was a third down go-to. You can tell. Definitely a difference.
“It’s awesome for Trent to be healthy. It’s been a grind for him to get back, so super happy and proud for him. He’s definitely let people know Trent’s back this year during camp."
Coach Kyle Shanahan knows 2018 was a challenge for Taylor. He saw improvement from the third-year pro right away when he returned to the field.
“It was so hard for Trent last year just because he was battling that back thing all of last offseason, so he missed a whole offseason of working out, which is a huge deal,” Shanahan said on Tuesday. “Trent spent his whole time away healthy. He had no setbacks with his back, so we could see the first day he got back here when he ran routes that he was feeling better.
“Each day, he’s been able to stack those days up of trying to get better, not just trying to get his back to feel better. Now Trent is right back to where we expected him to be after his rookie year.”
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Taylor finished his rookie season catching 43 of his 60 targets for 412 yards, two touchdowns and a 71.1-percent catch percentage. His second season was less productive with 26 completions on 41 targets and one touchdown.
“He had a good rookie year, but we expected him to come back better,” Shanahan said. “We still thought he needed to improve in a number of ways after his rookie year, and when he came back, he just came back hurt. That was tough, and he took a step back. We expect him to get back to his rookie year and we expect him to be better.
"And he’s on his way to doing that right now.”