Why WR Jeremy Kerley Is Kyle Shanahan’s Best Version of Taylor Gabriel

Why San Francisco 49ers’ WR Jeremy Kerley is Kyle Shanahan’s best version of Taylor Gabriel, if not better, but without the 4.27 or 4.28 speed of Gabriel he was reportedly clocked at.


Stats recap:

San Francisco 49ers’ wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, all 5’9” and 188lbs of him, has earned a contract extension, and if newly aboard general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan want to get off to a great start early, they had better pay the “Man.” Why pay him? Let’s recap Jeremy Kerley’s production, shall we? Kerley in 2016 caught 55.7 % of passes thrown to him by QBs Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick, collectively, while accounting for 28.7 % going for first downs, via ESPN.com.

Kerley also led the team in nearly every major category when it comes to the receiver position by amassing 64 catches for 667 yards on 115 targets while averaging 10.4 yards per catch, and three touchdowns. What may also surprise you is that he had eight catches for 20 plus yards or more, and 193 (YAC-yards after the catch).

Important to note: Kerley played in a full 16 games in 2016 and 90 games over his six-year career. Can you say “durability”? Yes, you can. He also accounted for 246 catches with 141 of those going for first downs, 2,892 yards receiving, while averaging 11.8 yards a catch and 12 touchdowns, via NFL.com. 

A recap at a glance of Kerley’s scouting report:

Kerley explodes off the line and reaches top speed instantly. Possesses very reliable hands and quickly secures the ball. Has fluid hips and great lateral agility which makes him very difficult to tackle in the open field. Shows good vision as a return man and has the quickness to exploit seams. Willing run blocker. Weakness: lacks the top end speed with 4.56 to stretch the field at the next level, via www.NFL.com.

How does Taylor Gabriel match up against Kerley?

Gabriel stands at 5’8” and 165lbs, and has appeared in 42 games during his three-year career while totaling 99 receptions at a 14.6 per yard average with 1,441 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. His 2016 season? With the overall consensus MVP winner and fellow teammate Matt Ryan as his quarterback, he totaled 35 catches, catching 70% of his 50 targeted passes for 579 receiving yards at 16.5 yards per catch and six touchdowns.

A recap at a glance of Gabriel scouting himself:

At your position, what separates you from the others? My quickness and speed and I’m a willing blocker and know the tendencies of a defense because of film and knowing formations football IQ. Dedicated and hungry to help any team in any way, via nfldraftdiamonds.com.

The only glaring difference between Gabriel and Kerley is his speed which Gabriel ran a 4.27 in 40 time. And, on the other hand, Kerley ran a 4.56. Gabriel can take the top off a defense. He is very explosive and has burners no doubt, but Kerley makes up with his lack of straightaway speed with his quickness/game speed, good route running, hands, and a savviness to always be the “Open Man” for whoever is his quarterback. Kerley has made a living on third down throughout his career as aforementioned and plays the slot better than the great “Robert De Niro” did in “Casino.”

Does Gabriel know he’s fast? Yes, he does. His nickname does have a nice ring to it. #TurboTaylor

Allow me to leave you with this:

Message to the new General Manager John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan: “Cut the check, please.” The Kerley acquisition/audition this past season gave fans a rare bright spot to look forward to on Sundays with his knack for making plays, tough catches in traffic, his ability to get open, and being a trustworthy target on third down. Kerley brings a high level of enthusiasm to the table with a high dose of passion. Coach Shanahan has to look no further if he wants to attempt to re-create his plethora of weapons he had in Atlanta. What’s that? Where do you start? Well, look no further than #Kerleytheopenman.


Will Shanahan re-sign Kerley the “Open Man?” Or Will he try and lure the highly coveted and soon to be restricted free agent Gabriel Mr. “TurboTaylor?” Is Kerley the cheaper/better value signing of the two? Should the 49ers try and sign both? Is that realistic? They have the money (80 plus million in cap space) and both can play the slot/multiple positions and be utilized as match-up nightmares… All great questions indeed stay tuned more to come….

Interesting to note: Taylor Gabriel is playing the last year of an original 3 year, $1,530,000 contract he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Cleveland Browns, including an average annual salary of $510,000. In 2016, Gabriel has earned a base salary of $600,000. Gabriel has a cap hit of $600,000 with the Atlanta Falcons. 

On a Niners Live side note: Niners Live recently discussed Why the 49ers Chose John Lynch as GM and What He Brings to the Table and Why 49er Fans Will Need to Have Patience and Realistic Expectations.

Recent Niner News: Bios on both potential assistant coaches Mike LaFleur and Mike McDaniel. Last but not least; New Vice President of Player Personnel Adam Peters.

 Like always: keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners.

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Editor Niners Live.