49ers Bringing Back ‘Fan Favorite’ WR in New Free Agency Move

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Trent Taylor

Getty San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Trent Taylor

In their latest free agency move, the San Francisco 49ers are adding a familiar face to their wide receiver group. After two years in the midwest, Trent Taylor is returning to Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

Taylor hasn’t been with the 49ers since the 2020 season, spending two years with the Cincinnati Bengals and then a season with the Chicago Bears. But according to Bleacher Report insider Jordan Schultz, Taylor is headed back to Santa Clara, California.

“Sources: The #49ers and WR/PR Trent Taylor have agreed to terms on a contract to bring him back to the team that drafted him. The dependable punt returner spent last year with the Bears and was with the Bengals in 2022,” Schultz wrote on X on April 16. “Trent Taylor, aka Quality Time, has returned to the Bay! #49ers are bringing back a fan favorite.”

Taylor has primarily seen his playing time limited to kick and punt returns, but 49ers fans will remember when he was a factor on the offense during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. But the extent of his role for San Francisco in 2024 remains to be seen.

Trent Taylor’s NFL Journey

During his final two seasons with Louisiana Tech, Taylor became a local sensation. He first exploded as a junior with 1282 receiving yards, but then caught a mind-boggling 136 catches for 1803 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 2016 according to Sports Reference.

Despite that, Taylor fell to the fifth round of the 2017 NFL draft. As a 5’8″, 180-pound player, his size was always a question mark. 7 seasons later, Taylor is still playing in the league.

During his rookie season, Taylor was used somewhat frequently on offense. He totaled 430 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. However, he was slowly fazed out of the 49ers offense during the 2018 season and his production was essentially cut in half.

In the years’ since, Taylor has 18 receptions and 189 yards. However, he has consistently been the top return man for the teams he has played for. Taylor has 112 career punt returns, and averages about 9.4 yards per return.

With the NFL changing kick return rules, this could be part of a new plan from Shanahan. Taylor’s horizontal movement and elusiveness could make him a perfect return man in the new setup.

Brock Purdy Speaks on 49ers WR

While San Francisco is bringing in Taylor, there’s very little chance it has anything to do with Brandon Aiyuk. Aiyuk and the 49ers are in contract negotiations ahead of the final year of his rookie deal, and QB Brock Purdy has a message of support for his WR.

“I just told him I’ll always have his back and support him in whatever he does,” Purdy said, according to Cam Inman of the Mercury News. “It’s a business thing, so for me to say anything about that, that’s out of my pay grade.”

That’s probably the right take, as taking a side wouldn’t do much good for either side. However, the idea of the 49ers losing Aiyuk after he and Purdy’s impressive connection this past season is one that should concern 49ers fans.