49ers' Martin Mayhew says he wished he drafted Aaron Donald while GM of Lions

Martin Mayhew has one move he wished he did differently with the Detroit Lions. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Martin Mayhew knows what he’s always knocked for not doing in his nearly seven-year tenure during the early 2010s as the Detroit Lions’ general manager. And he agrees.

Mayhew said he should have drafted two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald when he had the opportunity.

Mayhew: I wish I’d drafted Donald

Mayhew was the general manager in Detroit from 2008 to 2015, when he was fired from his first executive position. They had a losing record in the time span, though they made the playoffs twice and bounced back from going 0-16 in 2008. Many of his former draft picks are stars on quality teams.

But Donald, the Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle, wasn’t one of those draft picks and it drew ire from fans. Now heading to the Super Bowl as the San Francisco 49ers’ vice president of personnel, Mayhew looked back at that decision.

“I wish I would have taken Aaron Donald,” Mayhew said, via the Detroit Free-Press. “That’s no knock on [Eric] Ebron. I wish I would have taken him. It’s not a decision that’s made in a vacuum. We talked about a lot of different scenarios, different situations. Man, I wish I had taken him.”

The Lions chose Eric Ebron with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The tight end played four seasons in Detroit and the last two in Indianapolis.

Mayhew not looking for a do-over

Jadeveon Clowney was the top pick in that draft by the Houston Texans. Eleven other teams passed on Donald until he landed at No. 13 with the Rams, who used their second pick on tackle Greg Robinson.

“It’s like anything else in this game,” Mayhew said, via the Free-Press. “If you’re the defensive coordinator and you call a blitz at the wrong time and you give that touchdown up and lose the game, you can’t get that back. You don’t get a do-over. You get one shot. If you’re the corner and you get beat for the winning touchdown, you got to live with that (and learn from it). If you’re the quarterback and you throw a pick-six in the fourth quarter with an opportunity to win it, you got to live with that.

“So I don’t have any – I don’t look back it like I want to get a do-over. I understand the way the league is and I’ve been in it pretty much my whole adult life. So I appreciate the time I was there, and I wish we could have done better for the city and for the ownership and for the players that we had there.”

According to the Free-Press, at the time the Lions felt Donald didn’t fit their profile for a defensive tackle.

All it takes is one small change to upend the entire rest of history. Mayhew said Donald possibly could have helped them defeat the Dallas Cowboys in the 2014 season’s playoff game. NFC North champions would have been impacted. The 49ers might not be in a place to win a Super Bowl, their first in 25 years and sixth overall, next week if that change happens.

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