SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers held about 30 starters and key players out of Saturday's preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys, but that didn't prevent them from revealing a previously undisclosed injury to one of them.
Early in the second quarter of the game, Niners general manager John Lynch announced on the television broadcast that wide receiver Trent Taylor, who was among San Francisco's pregame inactives, suffered a foot injury on Thursday and had surgery on Friday.
After the game, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Taylor suffered what's known as a "Jones" fracture, which is a break between the base and the middle part of the fifth metatarsal of the foot that results in pain near the midportion of the outside of the foot.
Taylor had a screw inserted into the foot during surgery on Friday, but Shanahan said the Niners remain hopeful that Taylor might make it back in time for the Sept. 8 season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because the team caught the injury before it became a complete break.
"We're lucky we caught it when it was just a stress fracture, and usually when you go with that for a little bit, it ends up breaking, and it can be a lot worse," Shanahan said. "He was complaining about a little pain, so we got the X-ray, saw a little fracture in there ... We decided to do it now so it can be more of a four-to-six-week injury instead of an eight-to-10-week [issue]."
Taylor practiced Thursday but complained of pain on the outside of his foot. He had an X-ray soon after that revealed the fracture. While Lynch said he hoped that Taylor would be able to return early in the season without a specific timetable, Shanahan pointed out that a four-week recovery could allow a return for the start of the regular season.
"We're hoping for week 1," Shanahan said. "Not counting on it but hoping for week 1."
Taylor posted a tweet Saturday saying he was "just missing a couple of games" and would "be back soon and better than ever."
For Taylor, the injury comes on the heels of a disappointing 2018 season in which he played through the aftermath of back surgery that never allowed him to get back to full speed. He followed a solid rookie season in 2017, in which he had 43 catches for 430 yards and two touchdowns, with just 26 receptions for 215 yards in 14 games last season. In the first couple of weeks of training camp, Taylor, who was projected to be the team's primary slot receiver, emerged as a favorite target of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Taylor said recently that he was feeling much better than he did a year ago.
"I feel good with where I'm at. But you know, every day is a new day to learn new things," Taylor said on June 30. "And I know I still have a long way to go to reach my full potential. So it's something that I'm just still constantly working at and ready to see what happens when the season gets here."
In a crowded receiver group vying for spots on the roster, Taylor had been enough of a standout that his teammates took notice of his improved quickness and productivity on the practice field.
"He had a tough season last year dealing with all those injuries," fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. "He wasn't happy with how the whole year went. But there seems to be a connection between Jimmy and him. And he just seems to just be moving at another speed and just has an incredible feel for space on the field. That so many times it's just him and Jimmy just kind of improvising where they have, you know, there's the play design, and it's almost just a suggestion to those two. A lot of times they find something that maybe works a little bit better."
With Taylor out, the Niners will have a group that includes third-round pick Jalen Hurd, veteran Jordan Matthews and second-year man Richie James vying for opportunities.
Hurd took advantage of his opportunities in Saturday's 17-9 win, catching a pair of touchdowns, and also has the ability to play outside.
"He wasn't out there in OTAs, so we were eager to get him out there, and he made it out for practice one, and he's been at every one since," Shanahan said. "He plays very physical. He's in good shape, runs hard, has strong hands. Just trying to pick up the offense. He had a few mistakes today, but he played pretty well. It was a good first night for him."
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