San Francisco 49ers: Does Taylor Mays Have a Future with the Niners?

Kyle Vassalo@VassaloBRFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 17:  Louis Murphy #18 of the Oakland Raiders fumbles the ball when he was hit by Taylor Mays #23 of the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on October 17, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Murphy recovered his own fumble on the play. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Taylor Mays has an unparalleled combination of size and speed. He's amongst the biggest safeties in the league and you would be hard pressed to find a safety with his athleticism.

Mays is a ferocious hitter and a former All-American. So what's the problem? Mays looks lost on the field at times, especially in coverage.

Mays has shortcomings, but he's only in his second year. It's far too early to completely write him off, especially with his potential.

Don't forget, Mays is a Trent Baalke guy. A new regime is taking over in San Fran, but Baalke's presence means he isn't going to be completely discounted.

Secondary coach Ed Donatell recently spoke to Matt Maioccco and had this to say about Mays, "He got some valuable playing time. I see a lot of traits. He should spike in this system."

Mays is still very raw, but he isn't lazy. Mike Singletary heralded him last season as one of those guys who was constantly asking questions. His desire to have a better understanding should compensate for his mental lapses on the field.

Mays is built to be a safety in the box. Even if his shortcomings in coverage make him useless in over the top coverage, he is impressive against the run. He comes downhill and could be a force in the middle if they choose to use him as such.

He played a position that doesn't even exist in the NFL while he was at USC. He played center field safety, but played obnoxiously far back. His job was to dissect plays and his speed allowed him to make up the extra yardage.

He played somewhat of a glorified middle linebacker position, which made his transition to the NFL a bit difficult.

He is more than a special teams hero though. Mays can be a contributor and could be the future strong safety of the Niners. He's got a lot of guys in his corner, including 49ers' legend Ronnie Lott, who has taken Mays under his wing.

Mays is actually going to get coaching, unlike his rookie season. He's got the "hit people in the mouth" mindset down. Now it's time to start acting like a defensive back.

He has all the tools to be an All-Pro. Whether or not he is going to evolve into that is impossible to say, but it is way too early to start writing off Mays.

Like Anthony Davis, he was trusted onto the field by an overzealous Mike Singletary staff. He has an incredible high ceiling, but they knew he was a project when they drafted him. He didn't have the impact Earl Thomas did as a rookie, but he has unlimited potential.