Three under-the-radar veterans who can help the 49ers offense
It's not breaking any new ground to say the fate of the San Francisco 49ers offense is tied to how well the big-name players perform. At the end of the day, it's stars like Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, and Trent Williams that will decide how far this unit can go. Still, football is a team game, and anyone on the field can have a say in deciding the outcome. Here are three under-the-radar 49ers veterans who can help the offense in 2020:
Jeff Wilson, Jr.
During his first two seasons with the team, Wilson has done everything the Niners have asked of him. As an undrafted rookie in 2018, Wilson was thrust into a starting role when injuries depleted the backfield. He responded by gaining 90 yards on 23 carries in a win over the Denver Broncos.
Last season, Wilson was called upon to be the team's goal-line back while Tevin Coleman was sidelined early on, and proved more than capable with four rushing touchdowns in a two-week span. He also added a clutch, game-winning touchdown reception with under a minute remaining in a victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10.
Now, entering his third season, Wilson joins Coleman and Raheem Mostert as the only veteran running backs for the roster. With Coleman struggling for most of the 2019 regular season, Wilson could push for a larger role in the offense with a strong camp.
Look, we all understand Kittle is the alpha dog and arguably the most valuable player on the 49ers roster. However, he is still human and can get injured or need a break now and then. That's where a reliable backup comes in and Dwelley has an opportunity to put a stranglehold on that role.
While he hasn't seen many opportunities with Kittle in the lineup, Dwelley filled in admirably when the all-world tight end missed time in 2019. Dwelley made a key catch to seal a win late in the game in Week 8 against the Cardinals when Kittle was hurting and caught 7 balls for 38 yards and two scores starting in his place the next two weeks.
While the versatile Jalen Hurd may see some time at tight end as Kyle Shanahan uses him as a chess piece, Dwelley's still the only true, reliable option at the tight end position behind Kittle.
While Taylor may not seem under the radar to some 49ers fans, he's not universally seen as someone who can make a huge impact on a team that already has Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and rookie Brandon Aiyuk set to see most of the targets. Still, Taylor was efficient and reliable when healthy, catching 43 passes as a rookie in 2017. In fact, the only two rookie wide receivers with more receptions that year were Juju Smith-Schuster and Cooper Kupp.
The issue with Taylor has obviously been his health, as a back injury plagued him in 2018 and a broken foot forced him to sit out all of 2019. What some people forget though is Taylor was very impressive in camp before sustaining the foot ailment, and people within the 49ers organization believed he was primed for a big year. Taylor also has the trust of his quarterback and is a security blanket for Garoppolo.
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