If you believe Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers have safety Taylor Mays on the trade block simply because they've received a lot of inquires about him over the last eight or so days. Whether you believe that or not, he's on the block and may not be a 49er for much longer. Maybe new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio doesn't see whatever it was that Mike Singletary and Greg Manusky saw in him. Maybe that pick (second round last year) was more Singletary's than general manager Trent Baalke's. Singletary did, after all, try and force him out onto the field before he was ready.
While it was too soon to put Mays out there, it wasn't all bad. He didn't play like he belonged buried on the depth chart, but there were clear mental lapses that everybody knew he'd have. Most figured he was at least a year or two away from being able to handle the duties of an NFL strong safety, and it showed.
The thing is, he did do some stuff well that most people didn't expect. He covered better than most figured he would, but lapsed in other areas like his tackling ability. He was far away from being the guy you want back there on every play, he's not the guy you want to depend on ... that's why it's called a "safety." Mays showed some, but not nearly enough to earn a starting job going into 2011.
But did he do poorly enough to earn a spot on the third-team defense and a spot on the trading block? No, he probably didn't. You have to look at all of the facts, like the fact that Mays fell from potentially the top of the first round to the 49th pick overall because he was raw. He's been in the NFL one year and spent it with a different head coach, defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach than the ones currently with the organization.
So for somebody who doesn't quite "get" the NFL game yet, that all starts over.
The 49ers may not be ready to take on another young guy who doesn't quite "get" it. They're hoping for Ray McDonald to grow into a starter, Ian Williams or Ricky Jean Francois to grow behind Isaac Sopoaga, NaVorro Bowman to grow into a middle linebacker alongside Patrick Willis, who will be working with new defensive coaches for the first time in his young career.
Mays has a long way to go, and the 49ers have such an imbalanced secondary, they need to get some players in who can pick up a playbook and go. They just don't have time for him, but he does possess a whole ton of potential, and to the right team, could be worth some draft picks or even a more complete player. So, if the 49ers get something good for him, trading him is most definitely the right move.