Lots of 49ers fans expect Jimmy Garoppolo to have an MVP-worthy season in 2020. And he might have one. But he will need Trent Taylor's help.
Remember Taylor? The slot receiver who missed all of 2019. Him.
Why him? Because Emmanuel Sanders left. He signed with the Saints. And his replacement is a rookie, Brandon Aiyuk, who will have to learn the 49ers' dense, complicated offensive terminology -- the stuff Sanders knew already when the 49ers traded for him. Sanders came from the Broncos, whose offensive coordinator was Rich Scangarello, who came from the 49ers and used Kyle Shanahan's verbiage.
Aiyuk comes from Arizona State, which did not use Shanahan's offense. Plus Aiyuk won't have OTAs or minicamp to practice with Garoppolo and build chemistry. Meaning Aiyuk might not help the 49ers offense until November at the earliest. Last season, Deebo Samuel took a few months to come into his own, and he had the benefit of a full offseason training program.
While the 49ers bring Aiyuk up to speed, Garoppolo still will have Samuel and Kendrick Bourne and George Kittle. But to win an MVP, Garoppolo will need a third dependable, quality wide receiver, which is what he had last season.
Enter: Trent Taylor.
He and Garoppolo won't need OTAs or minicamp to build chemistry. They've had a terrific relationship since 2017.
Garoppolo missed most of 2018 with a torn ACL, but when he and Taylor reunited during training camp of 2019, they picked up exactly where they had left off. Taylor once again was Garoppolo's favorite target. But Taylor broke his foot and missed the entire season. And he hasn't been fully healthy since 2017.
If Taylor can stay healthy for just the first two months of the 2020 season, he could serve as a bridge wide receiver until Aiyuk is ready to take over.
If Taylor can't stay healthy, the 49ers could find themselves in the same spot they were in last season at the trade deadline. That's when they acquired Sanders, because their young receivers hadn't yet shown they could produce consistently for a championship contender.
Would the 49ers make a similar trade next season at the deadline if they had to? Probably. But they won't have to make a trade if Taylor stays healthy.
That's why Taylor absolutely is essential to the 49ers in 2020.