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Former 49ers great John Taylor chose wins over statistics

Jul 4, 2021 at 12:12 PM

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On June 30th, the 49ers announced that they will induct former wide receiver John Taylor into the team's Hall of Fame, along with former linebacker Patrick Willis.

"J.T." was drafted in the third round of the 1986 NFL draft out of Deleware St. He started his career as a punt returner before becoming one of the most dangerous receivers in the team's history.

In a sitdown interview with 49ers beat writers on July 1, Taylor talked about his playing career and his thoughts on the current 49ers team.

Taylor said words could not explain what it is like to be associated with Patrick Willis.

"I remember watching Patrick and was like, man, this guy is all over the field," Taylor said. "I used to think to myself I would not want to be a receiver going against him chasing me down the field because Patrick is pretty quick for being a linebacker. Linebackers I played with were strong and quick, but the linebackers you are seeing in the game today, they are like wide receivers able to run sideline to sideline and run plays down."

Taylor said the current 49er wide receivers are young, hungry, and looking to make names for themselves.

On draft day 1986, Taylor recalls not anticipating being drafted by an NFL team.

"The day of the draft, I was asleep," Taylor said. "I was not thinking about the draft because I was known growing up for baseball. When I did wound up getting draft by the 49ers, all my friends back home thought it was a misprint because they knew me for baseball. No one knew me for football."

Taylor talked about his first start against the Green Bay Packers because Dwight Clark got injured during warm-ups.

"They (the coaches) came to me and asked me how do you feel," Taylor said. " I said I feel OK. They said, 'Are you ready?' And I looked at them like, 'Where is this going?' Yeah, I am ready. I am ready like I am every game."

The coaches told Taylor he would have to start the game because of what happened to Clark.

"Going into that game, the last thing on my mind was something was going to happen to Dwight in warm-ups, and now I have to start the game. That is what happened, I got my shot, and I made the best of it.

According to Pro Football Reference, the then-rookie receiver finished the game with three receptions for 55 yards, and the 49ers beat the Packers 23-12 on December 6, 1987.

Though "J.T." is best known for catching two 90-yard touchdown receptions against the Los Angeles Rams and catching a 10-yard game-winning touchdown pass from Joe Montana in Superbowl XXIII, J.T.'s most memorable moment came in a game against the Seattle Seahawks during the 1991 season.

Taylor said the 49ers were losing at the time and had to drive the length of the field to win the game. Steve Bono, the starting quarterback for the game, threw the ball to Taylor twice on the drive, including the game-winning touchdown pass for 15 yards.

"I catch the ball, and I start to relax because I am in the endzone and all of a sudden free safety Eugene Robinson stuck the crown of his helmet in my chest, and I did a complete somersault landed on the ground, still holding the ball," Taylor said.

Taylor continued to explain that two weeks later, Sports Illustrated did the advertisement, "Sports Illustrated, You will get a big bang out of it."

"I was the guy getting the big bang," Taylor added.

According to Pro Football Reference, Taylor finished the game with seven receptions for 113 yards receiving and one touchdown. The Niners ended up beating the Seahawks 24-22 on December 8, 1991.

Taylor played alongside Jerry Rice throughout his playing career, and the two could be considered one of the greatest receiving duos of all time, not just for their catching abilities but also for their blocking skills.

"I have been told many times if I had went to another team, I would be their star receiver," Taylor said. "My thing was always this: once I get into the league, all I wanted to do is win a championship. I did not have to be the main receiver. As long as we won the game, that is all I was worried about. As far as having the most passes that game, the most yardage that game, I let that handle itself. My main concern was at the end of the day: did we have a 'W' or an 'L'?"

Taylor said the current 49ers team has a great core of guys who want to play together. "You can have teammates and not play together. If you have teammates that you play together with that you know what they are going to do. We can go into a game, and I can already anticipate what you are going to do on a certain play because that is what we practiced. We know each other. 'I know what you are going to do, you know what I am going to do' type of deal. That group (current 49ers roster) has the same work ethic and thought process we had."

Taylor retired after the 1995 season and finished his career with 334 receptions, 5,598 receiving yards, and 43 touchdowns. He also was named a member of the second-team All-1980s Hall of Fame Team, a two-time Pro Bowler, a part of three Superbowl championship teams, and was adorned with the love of the 49ers Faithful.
  • Written by:
    Sports has been my first love since I was 12 years old. At one point I wanted to play football professionally. I started to take photography as a hobby in my teenage years but this was when I followed sports. I started to listen to sports radio, I found my true calling and it was to be a sports talk show host. Though I follow football and basketball, I started to have a new love of cultures around the world. After graduating from San Antonio College in 2018, I worked for the Castroville News Bulletin before going to A&M San Antonio to get my communications degree. Since I have written for the Ranger of San Antonio College, the News Bulletin and the Mesquite of Texas A&M San Antonio, I met many people and went to a lot of events. My major milestone was being in the press box of the San Antonio Commanders game for the Mesquite and being apart of a press conference with the Medina County Sheriff and other local news outlets. When I am not doing anything, I like to watch old cartoons on the DC Universe, play video games such as Mega Man and the Mass Effect series. I have also created Youtube channel called "Anger Management" with my friend Aaron Donnell.
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