The Scholarship is Over For 49ers S Taylor

On the surface, 49er Curtis Taylor has everything one would want in a young safety. He's got ideal height at 6'2", a solid frame, he can run, he's not the least bit shy about laying the wood on the field, and he thrived while at LSU, playing in the best conference in college football, the SEC. So why is he in danger of being out of a job?

Simply put, Taylor has yet to prove that he can, you know, play. The former Bayou Bengal already exceeded expectations in some ways last year by making the active 53-man roster for the 49ers despite being a 7th round pick. Apparently Coach Mike Singletary and general manager Scot McCloughan thought highly enough of Taylor to not risk exposing him to the waiver wire, which would've been the case had he been placed on the practice squad. However, Taylor was only made active for seven games last season and what little action he saw came strictly on special teams. He suffered a hip injury in Week 12 versus Jacksonville and was placed on Injured Reserve, ending his rookie season five weeks early. The personable and fun-loving Taylor was popular in the locker room, and while he certainly looks the part of NFL stud, the Louisiana native struggled to pick up the defensive schemes that were certainly more complex than what he was used to at LSU. Both in training camp and in preseason games, Taylor had difficulty playing instinctively in coverage and was far more effective against the run, where his size and physicality was an asset. Generally players show the most improvement in the NFL between their first and second seasons, so it will be crucial for Taylor to show that he's got the defense down pat and that he can make plays in coverage when called upon. With Dashon Goldson and Michael Lewis starting in front of him and Mark Roman as the top reserve, Taylor will have to hold off Reggie Smith at the very least to solidify his standing as the fourth safety, and that's assuming the team doesn't draft someone such as Earl Thomas from Texas or Nate Allen from South Florida. Taylor can't count on the 49ers keeping five safeties again and he'll have to show he's ready to contribute after basically red-shirting in 2009.

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