Of any draft pick I have seen the 49ers make, I don't remember any that I perceived as having a bigger difference between upside and downside potential than Taylor Mays.
What if a person with his size, speed, vertical, and strength ever developed Ed Reed's instincts and ability to diagnose plays? Then again, what if he doesn't improve his technique of bringing players to the turf by cracking ribs instead of wrapping arms around them? For a lot of players, this will not fly in the NFL.
Today Coach Singletary gave us one of our first glimpses into Taylor Mays, who had two interceptions in practice Thursday morning. "He is always calling me and asking me to meet up for more practice, so that's the kind of guy that he is," Singletary said.
The next day, Mays appeared on 49ers Cam on NFL Network and discussed how motivated he was by players (specifically mentioning Patrick Willis, but on context also referencing Vernon Davis) who showed up in Singletary's system and have emerged as the best in the league at what they do. I understand that some players are really camera friendly, but Singletary's previous day's quote attests to his sincerity.
Unfortunately, it doesn't tell us much about future performance. When you think of the first player on the field and the last player off the field, success stories like Jerry Rice, Darrelle Revis, and Adrian Peterson come to mind, but it also brings to mind college success stories like Tim Tebow who I believe will come up to NFL speed slowly.
I think at this point we have all the good signs that we as fans can ask for. This tells me that Mays realizes both where he is at and where the 49ers believe he can be. He also recognizes that the 49ers brought in other players under these conditions and that they have the tools around them to succeed and become the best in the league at what they do.
The transformation that he has to make is similar to the one that Dashon Goldson made. Goldson was also notorious for slamming people instead of wrapping up and tackling. It only took him a year to get on the field and start producing.
The bottom line is that it appears that Mays has fully jumped on board with Singletary's plan, and I know I'm not the only one who's really excited to see what he becomes.