Mays, Whitner and the 49ers' secondary

Thoughts after the San Francisco 49ers reached agreement with veteran safety Donte Whitner while letting other teams know strong safety Taylor Mays could be had via trade:

  • Mays would have remained in the team's plans to this point had Mike Singletary remained head coach. Singletary was invested in Mays. The team had Ronnie Lott reach out to Mays right away. Kenny Easley was another great safety the team held up as an example to follow. Priorities and values change when staffs change. This doesn't necessarily mean the 49ers erred when they drafted Mays. It means they erred when they hired Singletary, and Mays is a casualty of the fallout.

  • Adding Whitner and fellow veteran safety Madieu Williams gives the 49ers a new look in the secondary, particularly with cornerback Carlos Rogers signing as well. Again, staff changes lead to player changes. The new staff in San Francisco obviously wasn't comfortable committing big money for holdover players. Feelings have probably been hurt along the way. Nate Clements, Takeo Spikes and Aubrayo Franklin are among those who bolted. A lack of continuity has hurt the 49ers on offense previously. It's hurting their defense right now.

  • The 49ers' handling of the Mays situation -- sending out an email to teams -- seemed unusual and clumsy. Whether the player and/or agent were contacted first matters as we evaluate how the 49ers handled this situation. I would think the 49ers kept Mays' camp in the loop. I do not know this. With some fans already uneasy over the front office's handling of free agency, a move that appears clumsy resonates in a negative way. It is possible teams send out memos like this from time to time. I reached out to a couple teams and they said this was not typical in their experience.

  • None of this should overshadow the fact that the 49ers are giving up on a player they drafted in the second round only one year ago.

OK, time is running short here. About to head out to Arizona Cardinals practice.