Buckner is stronger, wiser and among 49ers to watch in season opener
Because he’s a rookie, Trent Taylor spent offseason practices catching passes from backup quarterbacks C.J. Beathard, Matt Barkley and Nick Mullens.
After practice, however, he got work with the fourth quarterback on the roster.
“Brian (Hoyer) would always pull me over and make sure that me and him got some extra work together because you never know what can happen,” Taylor said Wednesday. “… Great leadership on his part. Glad to have a guy like Brian leading the way for us.”
The post-practice chemistry they built became especially significant after the 49ers cut veteran receiver Jeremy Kerley on Saturday. That made Taylor, a fifth-round draft pick, the top slot receiver on the roster, which means there’s a possibility he could start Sunday’s game against Carolina or at least see snaps early on.
Taylor gained the coaches’ trust by being one of their most reliable receivers almost from the start of spring practices. During the preseason, he caught all six passes that went in his direction.
With Kerley gone, Taylor also could handle punt returns against the Panthers, although another rookie, Victor Bolden Jr., could have that role as well.
Taylor said he was surprised that the 49ers would cut a veteran like Kerley but wasn’t content to merely be on the 53-man roster.
“I never want to feel like I made it,” he said. “Because that’s when you start losing it.”
Hurting hamstrings – Both strong safety Jimmie Ward and tight end George Kittle were limited in Wednesday’s practice with hamstring strains. Kittle seemed to do a little more early in practice than Ward, whose injury cost him all of training camp and the preseason.
If Kittle can’t play, Garrett Celek likely would start at tight end. Kyle Shanahan didn’t share the team’s plans for free safety if Ward is held back.
Both Jaquiski Tartt and rookie Lorenzo Jerome have filled in at practice.
“Both those guys will be competing,” Shanahan said. “They’ve got three days to do it. Depends how we use them, what packages.”
Defensive end Aaron Lynch (back) also was limited in practice.
Et cetera – Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was listed as a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. Newton had offseason shoulder surgery and only threw two passes in the preseason.
▪ Shanahan said he would choose different captains for the 49ers’ upcoming games and settle on permanent team captains later in the year.
▪ New addition Laken Tomlinson lined up at left guard with the second-string offense. The 49ers want Tomlinson, a former first-round pick, to compete for a starting spot, but that’s likely unrealistic for Week 1.