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Could the Vikings Trade for Taylor Mays?
Mike Singletary got the player he wanted and then lost him a year later. Could they be reunited in Minnesota?
It appears that the San Francisco 49ers are shopping their second-year safety Taylor Mays(notes). The former USC star was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, but not before some rather intense discussions. I remember watching a live feed of the 49ers' war room just before the pick was made which revealed an argument going down between then-head coach Singletary and general manager Trent Baalke. It seemed unclear at the time what the argument was about, but now it appears that they were on completely different pages about how to use the pick.
Now that Singletary has been fired and signed by the Minnesota Vikings as a linebacker coach, Baalke and the 49ers have decided that Mays is already expendable. They've recently signed former Vikings safety Madieu Williams(notes) and former Bills safety Donte Whitner(notes), which puts Mays near the bottom of the safety depth chart. He's been practicing with the third-team defense during training camp, which seems more like a sign of disrespect than a reflection on his talent level.
"It's cool," Mays said. "It is what it is. I have to roll with the adversity and play hard regardless."
The 49ers are already ready to end the Mays experience now that Singletary isn't around to lobby for him, making him available to other teams via trade. One of the most obvious suitors is the Vikings. First off, Singletary would love for his former draft pick to follow him to Minnesota. Second, the Vikings are in desperate need of some help at the safety spot. Although Mays isn't exactly a proven talent yet, the potential that he displayed during his days as a Trojan is hard to overlook.
Mays may be a safety, but he has linebacker size and cornerback speed. He's a ferocious hitter in the secondary and has the speed to make plays all over the field. The one issue that forced NFL coaches to shy away from him during the draft was his inconsistency in coverage. He has trouble playing the ball in the air and has a knack for giving up some big plays. Despite this flaw, there's no certainty that it'll stay that way forever. He has elite athleticism, which gives me more than enough reason to believe that he could develop outstanding coverage skills with experience and proper coaching. The key attribute here is potential.
I watched Mays throughout his USC days and I've seen the good and the bad. I've seen him rock receivers coming across the middle or step up and make a huge tackle against the run. I've also seen him blow coverage deep and give up a touchdown over the top. He had the same struggles in the six games he started for the 49ers last season, but he was just a rookie then. Just about every rookie has their struggles, so why write this guy off already?
If the 49ers are really that willing to part ways with him, then I think the Vikings need to make an honest effort to reunite Singletary with the player that he seemingly fought so hard to get. I can't see the asking price being that high considering the fact that Mays has yet to prove himself in the NFL, but you never can be sure. For all we know, they could be looking to get their second-rounder back, but that's unlikely.
Either way, I think Mays would be a great addition to the Vikings' secondary. He still has a lot to learn before becoming a solid starter in the NFL, but the idea of shrugging off a guy with that much athleticism and potential is just dumbfounding. He's definitely worth a shot, even if he only plays special teams for a while. If the 49ers are willing to take a late-round pick for him, pull the trigger.
He couldn't be any worse than Williams was for the past two years.
Gil Alcaraz IV has been a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan since watching their games inspired him to hit the Pop Warner fields at the age of nine. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV as he keeps you up to date on everything going on inside the world of football.
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