Tom Rathman on Kelvin Taylor: He’s More Quicker Than Fast? “I Would Say That’s True!”

A misconception under a San Francisco 49ers HC Chip Kelly operated offense is that the running back position is undervalued. A head coach who is perceived as a pass-first play-caller, it remains to be seen how Kelly will utilize his young but talented backfield.

Third-year RB Carlos Hyde clearly has Pro Bowl potential, but potential doesn’t mean much if you don’t live up to the hype. Then there is veteran backup RB Shaun Draughn. The journeyman free-agent turned solid back, Draughn has quickly solidified himself as the front-runner, should Hyde go down to injury. In six games with the 49ers last season, Draughn proved his worth by amassing 449 yards of total offense on 105 touches.

But the wild-card is undoubtedly, rookie sixth-round pick (No. 211) RB Kelvin Taylor. Considered somewhat of a legacy as Taylor’s father [Fred] was one of the best during his tenure in the NFL, Taylor hopes of experiencing similar success while carving out his own path.

At 5-10, 207, Taylor has the scat-back ability to gain valuable yards after contact by simply using his elite vision he learned from his father. A trait that often goes unnoticed, Taylor’s acclimation to the NFL game should be more seamless than most incoming rookies because of the tutelage from his father. Even RBC Tom Rathman alluded to the fact that Taylor is a fast learner during the team’s minicamp.

“He’s got some natural instincts just like his Dad [Fred] so he’s got some natural ability. But just a young guy trying to learn the offense. Different system then what he’s been in so it’ll be interesting to see how he progresses,” Rathman said.

But aside from his father’s mentoring, it’s his lateral agility and sudden quickness that should have Forever Faithful excited. For his size, Taylor is considered an explosive athlete because he can hit the second-level with ease. An athlete who I believe is more quicker than fast, I asked Rathman if he agreed with my assessment.

“I would say that’s true, yeah.”

What this means is that Taylor relies more on his fast twitch (Type II) muscle fibers. The difference between a player who is fast compared to a player who is quick, is determined by how long the muscle fibers can sustain shelf-life. Slow twitch (Type I) muscle fibers generally produce less explosion but can endure longer hours of activity like long-distance running. Type II muscle fibers relies heavily on explosion but have a shorter shelf-life. Simply put, Taylor is this type of athlete.

I’ve been closely watching Taylor’s progress throughout the off-season program, and I found him to be extremely coachable. Some players turn the other cheek when getting constructive criticism, but not Taylor. He absorbs Rathman’s advice like a sponge.

In one particular workout, I saw Rathman getting on Taylor’s case in a slide drill, but that’s a good thing. That means Rathman sees something special in Taylor. It’s when a coach doesn’t yell, where a player should be worried. How that will translate in Taylor’s rookie season remains to be seen, but to watch Taylor tackle hard coaching in a positive light, I’m sure has won the coaching staff over.

While the 53-man roster has yet to take it’s course, I’m all but guaranteeing that Taylor makes the roster when it’s all said and done. A player who has the rare ability to not only be a change-of-pace back to Hyde, but add value on special-teams, Taylor may ultimately prove to be more valuable than second-year RB Mike Davis who may be on the outside looking in.


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Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.