Wide receiver Trent Taylor was a player of interest for the 49ers as a potential boost in the passing game.
Taylor’s connection with Jimmy Garoppolo is what made his return in 2020 from injury so attractive. The two players instantly clicked in 2017 when Garoppolo was acquired. Taylor was a first down machine for Garoppolo out of the slot, so it was something that was projected to return in 2020.
However, Taylor immediately fell out of favor after a quarter into the season. He never really got much of a shot either, so what went wrong with him?
Well, everything went wrong with and for him.
For starters, Brandon Aiyuk’s immediate impact was something Kyle Shanahan could not ignore. With so many injuries occurring to the offense, Shanahan needed to force feed the limited playmakers he had left with Aiyuk. Giving snaps and looks to Taylor over Aiyuk was never going to be justified. And Shanahan has Aiyuk at the top of his totem pole for his “favorites.”
Another thing that factored in was Garoppolo being injured. Nick Mullens with Taylor did not click in 2018, so it definitely was not going to change in 2020. Without Garoppolo there to predetermine his throws to Taylor, his looks were going to be more limited than they already were.
Ultimately, what went wrong with Taylor was his mistakes as a punt returner.
Shanahan is not a forgiving coach when it comes to players he does not consider his favorites. Taylor didn’t make the most of his opportunities, as limited as they were, on offense, and wasn’t able to solidify himself as a punt returner. That position desperately needed to be solved and since Taylor could not fix it, he was useless to Shanahan.