© Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The 49ers kept seven wide receivers on their roster for a reason. Trent Taylor was dealing with a Jones fracture and Jalen Hurd was (is) dealing with a back injury for which there has been no clarity thus far. Sunday’s home opener against the Pittsburgh Steeler will be game No. 3 with five healthy wide receivers (game one was really four wide receivers considering Dante Pettis’ hamstring injury).
Now, Taylor is headed to injured reserve. The 49ers made a surprise move on Friday when they re-signed veteran tackle Sam Young and placed Taylor on injured reserve-return designation (meaning he can practice in Week 9, play in Week 11). Taylor, like Hurd and Tevin Coleman, was given a timeline for a potential Week 5 return. Instead, he’ll lose more than half of this season.
He’s losing that time after what Kyle Shanahan described as the most impressive training camp on the 49ers’ offense.
“He looked better than the player he was in 2017,” Shanahan said. “He was having the best camp of anyone on our offense. That’s why it was real unfortunate for him. Hopefully this will heal up because I know the work he’s put in. I know he’s down about it, but hopefully we are giving him some good reasons to come back and help us out in Week 8 or eight weeks from now.”
Taylor clearly hadn’t thought about that timeline yet, responding “Oh, really?” when told that he’d be able to return in Week 11. His disappointment was palpable on Friday, especially given the fact that the fracture had actually healed. As Taylor put it: “The bone looks great. It’s just the rest of my foot that doesn’t want to act right.”
According to Taylor, his rehab was stunted by frequent setbacks. Although not to nearly as severe an extent, it was similar Jerick McKinnon’s in his body’s lack of cooperation.
“Every time we tried to ramp up the work a little, it was like we’d take two steps back,” Taylor said. “It was taking too long to recover, just going for small bumps on workloads. I just have to be a little bit more patient than I want to be. I’ll be fine, ready to go once I clear IR or whatever. I don’t know exactly how it goes.”
The third-year wide receiver said the injury had bothered him throughout camp before he eventually had it examined and had surgery on August 9, the day before the 49ers’ first preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. Taylor said he felt a noticeable difference in his performance and health in camp from an injury-stifled year two, saying “I felt like me again.”
His greatest disappointment, he said, is being unable to reaffirm the choice of general manager John Lynch and the 49ers’ coaching staff for their faith in him.
“It’s extremely disappointing because I know what I can do out there on the field and I just want to go out there and prove to everybody what I’m capable of,” Taylor said. “I want to prove the coaches right; John [Lynch] and Kyle [Shanahan] for continuing to believe in me. That’s my main thing. I just want to prove them right and it sucks I just have to be a little more patient with it and I just have to keep working at it the way that I was working all offseason. I’m just not going to be able to show it as soon as I want to, but as long as I keep working the way I’ve been working, I’m confidence I can come back and be a difference-maker.”