49ers roster: Tay Martin is intriguing but limited as a rookie WR

Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver Tay Martin (1) Mandatory Credit: Sarah Phipps-USA TODAY Sports
Oklahoma State Cowboys wide receiver Tay Martin (1) Mandatory Credit: Sarah Phipps-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers added two undrafted wide receivers in 2022, one of them being Tay Martin, who has some noticeable upsides but perhaps not enough to make the squad this season.

The San Francisco 49ers might be thinking about the long game when it comes to the back end of their wide receiver depth chart.

Following their actions in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Niners added two undrafted wide receivers, Pittsburgh’s Taysir Mack and Oklahoma State’s Tay Martin, both of whom are likely poised to battle it out for a spot on the team’s practice squad as rookies.

The two first-year players each have their promising traits, yet the 24-year-old Martin might stand a slightly better shot at hanging around based on some notable attributes, including a far more productive collegiate career than his fellow UDFA counterpart:

Tay Martin Receiving & Rushing Table
*2017Washington StatePac-12FRWR113136611.860003136611.86
*2018Washington StatePac-12SOWR13696859.98000696859.98
*2019Washington StatePac-12JRWR124356413.140004356413.14
*2020Oklahoma StateBig 12SRWR5151499.90000151499.90
*2021Oklahoma StateBig 12SRWR1280104613.110144.0181105013.011
2022Oklahoma StateBig 12SRWR000
Washington State143161511.318000143161511.318
Oklahoma State95119512.610144.0196119912.511

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference
Generated 7/2/2022.

An older prospect, it’s fair to wonder if Martin has already hit his ceiling and never caps out more than a back-end-of-the-roster player who rarely winds up doing much more than filling out the tail end of a depth chart.

Still, Martin’s development might simply be needing some additional time, and that could easily be what San Francisco is gunning for here.

Why Tay Martin latches on with 49ers his rookie season

Martin is the epitome of a low-budget possession receiver who can use his 6-foot-3, 186-pound frame as a height mismatch when faced with one-on-one coverage.

Easily a better route-runner than Mack, Martin’s scouting report on NFL Draft Buzz pointed out reliable hands and an ability to serve as a go-to target in key situations, which might help with his productivity on third downs.

With an impressive 1,000-yard season in 2021, Martin could have been a draftable player on day three, and some may argue he’s a hidden gem of a UDFA find the 49ers would be wise to develop over the next year or two.

Why Tay Martin simply won’t cut it for 49ers, other NFL teams

Both Mack and Martin are tall, lanky receivers. Both are also 190 pounds or less, and in Martin’s case, he’s even less.

His being older likely means he won’t be able to add much more functional weight, and that could translate into more than enough challenges going up against press coverage at the NFL level against bigger, more physical defensive backs.

Working against Martin, at least in terms of his comparison to Mack, is the former’s speed. Whereas Mack ran a sub-4.5 40-yard time at his pro day, Martin was close to 4.6 at his, clocking in at 4.58.

While Martin has shown the ability to be elusive, we’re not talking about a speed threat here.

Chances Tay Martin makes 49ers’ 53-man roster in 2022

Simply put, Martin and Mack are both long shots to survive roster cuts and find themselves on the Niners’ 53-man roster this season.

San Francisco’s first five spots on the depth chart are all but filled, barring injury, with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud and the third-round NFL Draft pick, Danny Gray, assuming these roles.

With plenty of other depth receivers vying for what’ll likely be the sixth and final spot on the depth chart by Week 1, Martin faces a seriously uphill climb to even hang around on the practice squad.

However, possession receivers do have some value, and it’s possible the 49ers (or another team) places some value on his ability to be reliable and productive when given the opportunity.

Martin’s best chance in year one, though, might be as a practice-squad player where he looks to wait his turn for a back-end-of-the-roster opportunity in 2023 or beyond.

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