Given the amount of safeties that the 49ers have on their roster, this is a good move for Mays. Jim Harbaugh didn't seem completely sold on him, so he'll almost definitely receive more playing time than he got in San Francisco.
For the 49ers, whether or not this trade truly makes sense depends a lot on what draft pick they got from the Bengals.
They seemed quick to give up on Mays, who is one of the more athletic safeties in the league. But given their depth in the secondary, it's pretty easy to imagine Mays getting lost in the shuffle.
From a winning perspective, this is not a good move for Mays. No, the 49ers are not a great team, but they play in the winnable NFC West.
Without Carson Palmer at quarterback and Chad Ochocinco, the Bengals look to be one of the top candidates for the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft.
In addition to their own personnel issues, they play in the same division as the perennially strong Steelers and Ravens, as well as a rising Cleveland Browns team. It's hard to see much success coming to Cincinnati in the near future.
But now Mays is in a position where he gets to show his athleticism off more. He gets to go toe-to-toe with Hines Ward, Anquan Boldin and other top physical receivers.
This division will help Mays show off his skill sets, specifically his physical ones. It may not give him a long-term winning solution, but nothing in football is long term.
If he plays well, Mays will find his way to a contending team soon enough.
Mays started six games for the 49ers in 2010. With the addition of Donte Whitner, he wasn’t going to see any more playing time in San Francisco.
In Cincinnati, he’ll struggle to help his team to wins, but will get an opportunity to show his skills off.
If he’s really destined to be a star, we’ll know it soon. Conversely, if he’s destined to be a bust, we’ll know it just as soon.