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5 things to know about new 49ers RB Patrick Taylor

Apr 3, 2024 at 5:47 PM

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The San Francisco 49ers added some depth to their backfield on Wednesday with the addition of running back Patrick Taylor, who agreed to terms with the team on a one-year deal.

Taylor, 25, comes to the 49ers after four years with the Green Bay Packers, who first signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2020. Let's take a look at what to know about Taylor as he begins his time with the 49ers.

How he fits

Taylor joins a deep backfield in San Francisco that includes Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, and Jordan Mason. The first thing that jumps out about Taylor is his size -- at 6-2, 217, Taylor is easily the biggest back on the 49ers roster at the moment.

With McCaffrey and Mitchell set as the top two running backs on the roster, Taylor will have to prove in the weeks and months ahead that he's worthy of a number three or four spot at the position. Taylor totaled 65 carries for 261 yards with one touchdown in 34 games with the Packers while adding 14 catches for 69 yards. He notched career highs in carries (32) and rushing yards (141) in 2023 with 11 catches for 49 yards.

Taylor was also a special teams contributor for the Packers, which certainly won't hurt his chances of making the roster in San Francisco. He played a total of 276 special teams snaps with the Packers, with 122 of those coming in 2022 and 109 coming in 2023.

He's used to loaded backfields

Being part of a stacked backfield is nothing new to Taylor. He played with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon in Green Bay, and in college at the University of Memphis, he was teammates with four future NFL running backs in Tony Pollard, Darrell Henderson, Kenneth Gainwell, and Antonio Gibson, who played both receiver and running back for the Tigers.

"It was ridiculous," Taylor told Go Long in 2021. "We were just playmakers and Coach Norvell [former Memphis and current Florida State head coach Mike Norvell] knew how to use us and implement us within his offense. We were a big part of his offense then and running backs are a big part of his offense now."

Taylor managed to carve out a successful college career amidst all that talent, finishing with 2,884 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns. But it didn't come without a dose of adversity that wound up affecting his chances of being selected in the NFL Draft.

A significant injury hurdle

Taylor could have chosen to enter the NFL Draft as a junior, but he returned to Memphis for his senior season to have a chance at being "the man" at running back for the Tigers. He wound up suffering a Lisfranc injury in his foot in the first game of his senior season, which resulted in him facing a major choice -- either undergo surgery that would put him in a position to be ready for the draft, or spend some time healing on the sidelines before returning to the field.

While some players would have chosen the former, Taylor chose option B. It resulted in him having to deal with plenty of pain through his senior season and into the draft process, but he doesn't second guess the path he chose.

"If I had to go back and do it again, I would definitely do it the same way," Taylor told Sports Illustrated in 2022. "I don't regret any decision that I made to come back and play. I love this game so much. At the time, I was a 20-year-old athlete with aspirations of playing in the NFL. My first game, going out with an injury. 'Oh, I'm fine.' You tell a kid who's 20 years old, 'You're going to have to have a surgery and you're going to be out six to eight months. Or, you can have this other surgery and you can possibly come back this season.' I'm going to take that deal nine times out of 10."

Taylor fought through injury to rush for 350 yards five touchdowns as a senior, while Gainwell exploded for 1,459 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 2018, Taylor ran for 1,122 yards and 16 touchdowns while Henderson totaled 1,909 yards and 22 touchdowns and Pollard finished with 552 yards and six touchdowns.

Finding a place with the Packers

Taylor clocked a 4.57 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine despite his injury, but NFL teams wound up passing on him in the draft. After joining the Packers, Taylor spent the bulk of the 2020 season healing his injury, then found himself on the practice squad in 2021 after failing to make the 53-man roster out of the preseason. In November of 2021, Taylor made his way to the active roster and played in nine games the rest of the way.

Taylor bounced back and forth between the Packers' active roster and practice squad over the next two seasons and even had a brief stint with the New England Patriots' practice squad in October of 2023 before returning to the Packers in November. Taylor saw eight snaps on offense and six on special teams against the 49ers in last season's Divisional playoff round but did not receive any carries.

"He's extremely intelligent," Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said of Taylor in 2021. "You should see his notebook, it's as good as some of our quarterbacks'. He does such a great job and he's really in tuned to what we're trying to get accomplished and the why's behind it."

Learning to be charitable at a young age

Taylor was one of the most active players on his college team when it came to community service, which is something he learned while his family dealt with disaster during his childhood.

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Taylor's family opened the doors of their Houston home to all the members of their extended family who were affected by the storm. There were almost 50 people at one point staying in Taylor's home, and it wound up having a lasting impact on Patrick, who was seven years old at the time.

"It was crazy. All my family from Louisiana showed up," Taylor told Sports Illustrated. "My mom and my dad, we opened up our home and everybody stayed there. People were sleeping on the floor, everywhere. Seeing my mom and dad and how they were so willing to open up their home to our family and feed our family, it's something that I want to live by as far as being helpful and being a servant. When I saw them do that, it was like, 'Dude.' At the time, me being a kid, I was like, 'I get to play with my cousins!' I knew the significance of the situation. For them to open up their home was amazing."
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