In preparation for his second season in the NFL, 49ers safety Taylor Mays took yoga classes to strengthen his legs and lifted weights to put on six more pounds of muscle.
The second-round pick from USC in 2010, who started six games last season, was looking forward to making an impact in 2011, telling the San Jose Mercury News early in training camp that “every day is a chance to get better.”
Well, if Mays is going to reach his potential as the 49th overall pick in the draft, he’ll be doing it in a Cincinnati Bengals uniform.
Mays Monday was traded to Cincinnati for an undisclosed draft choice.
Mays – a three-time, first-team All-America safety with the Trojans and a favorite of former 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, who campaigned for his selection -- had become the forgotten safety.
He played with the third team in Saturday’s exhibition against the Raiders and ranked sixth on the depth chart behind Donte Whitner, Dashon Goldson, Reggie Smith, Madieu Williams and C.J. Spillman, reported Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.
On Monday, when defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said, “We feel like we’ve got five safeties there that can play in the NFL,” Mays name wasn’t mentioned.
While Mays’ fall from grace in San Francisco was swift , his departure wasn’t a surprise. On Aug. 4, the 49ers sent out an email to other teams offering Mays for trade.
On Monday, the Bengals made the deal, giving them three 49ers from last year’s team: Mays, cornerback Nate Clements and linebacker Manny Lawson.
Mays’ former teammate at USC, Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga, told the Cincinnati Post: “He’s a competitor, great teammate, he works hard in the weight room and classroom. I think he’ll come in an learn from the veterans.”
With the change in coaching staffs and the free-agent acquisition of Whitner, Mays was never in the 49ers’ 2011 plans.
Maiocco reported that some coaches believed Mays had the size, strength and speed to play in the league, but not the ability to change direction quickly and put himself into position to make plays.
Last season, he lost his starting job to Reggie Smith the final seven games.
Reported Paul Dehner Jr. of CBSSports.com: "Mays has incredible size and speed, but never showed anything resembling football instincts to be effective."