When the 49ers traded safety Taylor Mays to the Bengals last week, the details of the trade had not been revealed. On Monday, it was finally made public what the 49ers got in return: a seventh-round draft pick in 2013.
That’s a major drop for a player the team drafted in the second round last year (49th overall). Then head coach Mike Singletary saw something in him that he went against general manager Trent Baalke’s wishes advice and drafted Mays. Mays was decent his rookie year, but he was clearly very raw and needed a lot of work.
The new coaching staff this year knew that Mays was a work in progress but didn’t have the effort to try to make him better. When they put out a mass email notifying the entire league that they wanted to trade Mays, it signaled the end of Mays’ short stint with the 49ers.
When the 49ers drafted Mays, he was compared to 49ers legend Ronnie Lott. Last year during an interview, Lott said that he saw a lot of potential with Mays on the 49ers.
I look at Mays as (number) one: he has a lot more speed than I ever had. Two: he’s a lot bigger and more physical than I ever was. I think when you think of the combination of speed and the combination of size, those two remind me more of a Tim McDonald.
He’s a lot faster than Tim McDonald but he has the size that Tim McDonald had. I think this is a combination of a young man that can be a not only explosive, but all of the sudden you take him learning how to play man-on-man; which at SC, they played a lot of zone, they played a lot of bail techniques, they don’t get up and bump and run.
He’s physical, athletic, more engaged with the ability to do a lot of different things. So I think the downside of Taylor is that he doesn’t know a lot of things. The upside he’s got all the right attributes to be a great football player. I’m very excited for him and I’m looking forward to watching him become a Pro Bowler; watching him become one of the leaders or this defense.
Mays remained professional throughout the entire time he was on the trade block. Despite being so far down on the depth chart, he continued to work. But it was hard to ignore the fact that the new coaching staff did not see any strong potential in him.
And with the return of a late-round pick in 2013, the 49ers can clearly say they messed up in last year’s draft when they got him.
Maybe Mays can turn it around and become a solid safety. The 49ers didn’t see that potential in him. And if Mays does turn it around, he’ll have to do it wearing a Bengals uniform.