NFC West: Jonathan Martin

Examining the San Francisco 49ers' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Because of heavy competition elsewhere, the 49ers will likely only carry two quarterbacks. They finished last season that way. The competition will be to see if undrafted rookie Kory Faulkner can take McLeod Bethel-Thompson's spot on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

The fact that the 49ers drafted Hyde in the second round and Lattimore is healthy means some tough decisions will have to be made. Hunter is too valuable to let go. That means 2012 second-round pick LaMichael James will have difficulty making the roster.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

The 49ers are so much deeper here this year than last. That means they will likely have to keep six receivers. Lloyd may look good and Patton has too much potential to give up on. That means it could be tough for Kassim Osgood to make it even though he is a special teams cog.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

If Davis ends his holdout, I can't see the 49ers keeping more than three tight ends because of the glut at receiver. Unless Garrett Celek has a big camp, he may be in trouble. Carrier intrigues the 49ers because of his size and speed.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)

Assuming Boone ends his holdout, this is a pretty nice group of eight players. It's improved from last year. A solid veteran like Adam Snyder and a promising youngster like Ryan Seymour will have trouble making the team.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

This is another power spot. It's deep. Players like Jerod-Eddie and Dial are too valuable to cut. Ramsey has looked good and I have a hunch the 49ers may like him too much to expose him to the waiver wire. That means Demarcus Dobbs could be in trouble.

LINEBACKERS (7)

Most teams carry six linebackers but the 49ers are stacked here, especially with NaVorro Bowman out for about half the season. Because fifth-round pick Lynch is promising he should make the roster. Dan Skuta is an excellent player, but there might not be any room for him. I could see him being one of those later-summer Trent Baalke trade specials because he has value.

CORNERBACKS (5)

This unit is in flux, but I see Johnson making it. Don't be surprised if there is some in-camp jockeying as the 49ers look for the best mix.

SAFETIES (5)

Ward, the 49ers' first-round pick, will play nickel cornerback as a rookie, but projects long term as a safety. Ventrone and Spillman should stick because they are great on special teams. Craig Dahl could be in trouble.

SPECIALISTS (3):

This group is set and it's excellent.
Some fans of the San Francisco 49ers are a bit apprehensive that the team has not been overly busy in bringing in new talent this offseason.

While concentrating on keeping their own free agents, the 49ers added just four veterans. They signed safety Antoine Bethea and cornerback Chris Cook and traded for quarterback Blaine Gabbert and tackle Jonathan Martin.

The small incoming veteran class is keeping in step with many of the winning teams in the NFL. Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, the chart includes the teams that added the fewest players this offseason and their 2013 record.

It's clear that many winning teams -- like the 49ers -- liked their roster and made some tweaks instead of wholesale changes.
Thanks to Jacksonville Jaguars NFL nation reporter Michael DiRocco, I have some notes to pass along from Jim Harbaugh’s breakfast media session.

The San Francisco 49ers considered adding a veteran receiver in free agency, and they likely will use an early round pick at the position. The 49ers ran the fewest three-receiver sets in the NFL in 2013. It is clear Harbaugh is looking to change that.

Harbaugh
“Yeah. No. 3 receiver, a third guy that can get open, make plays, another option for the quarterback to go to,” Harbaugh said. “A chance to attack areas of the field. A playmaker. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Harbaugh will continue to look at rookie quarterbacks. He said he will work out Derek Carr of Fresno State and David Fales of San Jose State soon. Carr could be a first-round pick, which would likely take the 49ers out of consideration. Fales could be a mid-to-late-round pick. The 49ers will likely add a quarterback in the draft. Harbaugh has been looking at other quarterbacks this spring.

Harbaugh said trade addition Jonathan Martin could be used some at guard. Martin, a tackle, has said he’s never played guard, but he is willing to try. Martin will be the team’s swing tackle. However, in 2015, the team might be looking for a new guard if Mike Iupati leaves in free agency. So Martin could be a possibility there.

Harbaugh said he believes running back Frank Gore has three more good seasons in him. Gore, who will be 31 in May (ancient in running backs years) had another outstanding season in 2013. He ran for 1,128 yards.

Harbaugh repeated that he is happy in San Francisco.

“Yeah, I mean I love coaching this team,” Harbaugh said. “I love the players, I love the coaches and the organization they serve, and want to be here for a very long time.”

Harbaugh has two more seasons on his contract. Ownership has made it known it would like to extend his deal soon.
Free agency is entering its fifth day (it only seems like 43) and the San Francisco 49ers have been busy making roster changes. Let's take a look at what has gone on so far:

Returning free agents: Receiver Anquan Boldin, kicker Phil Dawson, cornerback Eric Wright.

Departed free agents: Safety Donte Whitner (Cleveland), cornerback Tarell Brown (Oakland), running back Anthony Dixon (tweeted he is signing with Buffalo on Saturday).

Released: Cornerback Carlos Rogers.

Free-agent addition: Safety Antoine Bethea (Colts), Cornerback Chris Cook (Vikings).

Acquired in trade: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Jaguars; tackle Jonathan Martin from Miami.

Who are they interested in? Cornerback Walter Thurmond (Seattle),receivers Julian Edelman (New England) and Emmanuel Sanders (Pittsburgh).

Remaining 49ers free agents: Center Jonathan Goodwin, receiver Mario Manningham, quarterback Colt McCoy, receiver Kassim Osgood, cornerback Perrish Cox.

Starting lineup changes: Bethea for Whitner; likely Daniel Kilgore for Goodwin.
The San Francisco 49ers are getting a veteran cornerback. But they might not be done adding at the position before the draft.

Cook
An NFL source confirmed the team will sign Minnesota free agent Chris Cook. He is expected to sign a team-friendly one-year deal. The team still has interest in Seattle cornerback Walter Thurmond, who is vising the 49ers on Friday, and have interest in retaining Tarell Brown.

Cook will battle for a roster spot. He has experience and at 6-foot-2, he is big for a cornerback. But he has struggled on and off the field at times. He has no career interceptions.

Still, the 49ers -- who added quarterback Blaine Gabbert and offensive lineman Jonathan Martin -- are banking they can salvage Cook's career. If not, the team doesn’t have much invested. ESPN analyst Matt Williamson thinks taking a flier on Cook is worth the 49ers’ while.

“He has a lot of talent,” Williamson said. “Maybe he can resurrect his career in San Francisco.”
Martin
I wanted to follow up with some thoughts on the Jonathan Martin conference call he held with reporters Thursday night:

Martin, in just his second public comments since the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal, predictably didn’t say much about the Dolphins’ situation. He said he wanted to focus on the future.

Martin said all the right things about the 49ers. He said he knows nothing is guaranteed and he has to earn his keep. That’s the right attitude.

It seems as though Martin understands this is his best chance. He is around Jim Harbaugh and some of his other former coaches at Stanford. He has a support system in place. He gets that.

It’s easy to tell that Martin is a Stanford man. He is articulate and spoke at length about his major at the school, which is Classics.

I don’t expect Martin to talk about his Miami experience. Thursday was about the future and I don’t expect that to change moving forward.
The San Francisco 49ers may turn to their greatest rival to address one of their few needs.

Thurmond
Seattle free-agent cornerback Walter Thurmond tweeted Thursday that he is headed to San Francisco for a visit. He visited Jacksonville on Thursday.

Thurmond is a versatile player who can play inside and outside. He’d be an upgrade for the 49ers at the cornerback position, which is still somewhat of a work in progress.

Interestingly, Thurmond and 49ers free-agent cornerback Tarell Brown have the same agent. Because the 49ers have limited cap room, they may be hard pressed to keep Brown -- who reportedly has received interested from Miami -- and sign Thurmond.

The 49ers also are visiting with Minnesota cornerback Chris Cook. He is not considered the player Thurmond or Brown are.

In other 49ers news:
  • Tackle Jonathan Martin passed his physical and his trade to the 49ers from Miami is official. The 49ers are giving Martin, who played for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, a change to salvage his career after being at the center of a bullying case in Miami last season.“Any time we acquire a player we give him a clean slate, along with every opportunity to demonstrate his value to our organization, both on the field and in the community,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “It will be no different in Jonathan’s case. As a former Stanford student-athlete, we are very familiar with Jonathan and look forward to working with him.”
  • Free-agent running back Anthony Dixon tweeted that he is going to Buffalo for a visit. He left Tennessee on Thursday. He is not expected to be back with the 49ers. While the salary cap is still fluid, the 49ers are expected to have about $3-4 million remaining.
Tuesday night, after news broke of the 49ers trade for embattled offensive lineman Jonathan Martin from Miami, I lauded the deal for being perfect.

Martin
The trade put Martin, the center of a bizarre bullying case with Dolphin offensive linemates last season, in the best possible situation. He is playing for Jim Harbaugh, who coached him at Stanford. He will have a built-in support system. Plus, the 49ers could use him as a swing offensive linemen. He will be a solid sixth man.

ESPN analyst Matt Williamson concurs. He also thinks it’s a good fit, especially at the cost. The Dolphins will get a seventh-round pick in 2015 if Martin is on the opening day roster this season. Williamson thinks the label that Martin is soft is accurate, but he thinks he has ability and can help in the 49ers’ system as an extra lineman.

“There is a huge shortage of offensive linemen in the NFL, in my opinion, so why not add a guy that you are familiar with that was an early second-round pick based on his talent?” Williamson said. “Will he ever eat nails on the field? No, but San Francisco is the most physical running game in the league, and he will adhere or go away. Plus, they play so many six-man O-line sets (used to be Daniel Kilgore's job, who is now poised to start at center), so they need another quality sixth man.”

49ers' offseason scorecard

March, 12, 2014
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Free agency isn’t 24 hours old and the San Francisco 49ers have been busy making roster changes. Let’s take a look at what has gone on so far:

Returning free agents: receiver Anquan Boldin, kicker Phil Dawson, cornerback Eric Wright.

Departed free agents: Safety Donte Whitner (Browns).

Released: Cornerback Carlos Rogers.

Free=agent addition: Safety Antoine Bethea (Colts).

Acquired in trade: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Jaguars; tackle Jonathan Martin from Miami.

Remaining free-agent priority: Cornerback Tarell Brown.

Other remaining free agents: Center Jonathan Goodwin, receiver Mario Manningham, quarterback Colt McCoy, receiver Kassim Osgood, running back Anthony Dixon, cornerback Perrish Cox.

Starting lineup changes: Bethea for Whitner; likely Daniel Kilgore for Goodwin.
Jonathan Martin tweeted Tuesday night that he appreciated getting another NFL opportunity.

I’m sure he realizes this is his best chance at a comeback.

Martin
If the talented, embattled offensive tackle is going to salvage his career, it will be in San Francisco. The 49ers did Martin a favor and acquired the gifted swing tackle by executing a trade with the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday night. Martin was acquired for a conditional draft pick.

While there hasn’t been much talk recently, this has made sense for some time. I wrote that would be a perfect pairing last month.

Martin, who was at the center of a bullying saga in Miami, has a built-in support system in San Francisco as he tries to get his career back on track. He played for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and several of his assistants when they were at Stanford. Martin has reportedly been taking classes at Stanford, which is a short drive from the team’s headquarters. So, personally, he will be surrounded by friends as well.

Harbaugh has been a champion for Martin. He vouched for Martin in the Wells report that examined the bullying case. Harbaugh said in the report he thought Martin could have a successful NFL career. He also said this publicly during the November firestorm: “As far as that situation, there’s only one thing I can intelligently comment on and that’s knowing Jonathan Martin. I know him to be a fine person and his family. [Martin was a] great contributor as a student and an athlete at Stanford, epitomizes the student-athlete model and a personal friend. I support Jonathan.”

Now, Harbaugh will coach him again and I’m sure that will inspire Martin. As part of the Wells report, Martin told friends he wanted to stick with football because he didn’t want to disappoint his former coaches. Now, he is around those men again.

Martin’s presence in the 49ers’ locker room won't likely cause a ripple.

The 49ers boast a stable, veteran-led locker room. Several 49ers players condemned the Miami situation while it was happening. The San Francisco offensive line is a close-knit, easy-going group. I doubt Martin will have trouble fitting in. In fact, 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis welcomed Martin via Twitter on Tuesday night.

Where will Martin fit in San Francisco on the field? The team is set with starting tackles Joe Staley and Davis. But tackle is a premium position and Martin, a former second-round pick, can be a top backup option.

The 49ers got better Tuesday night and Martin got his best chance for football redemption.
As the NFL universe digests the Wells report breaking down the bullying of Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin by his offensive line mates, there are reports that Martin, who left the Dolphins during last season, wants to return to the NFL.

Martin
It is very likely the Dolphins will either trade or release (the more likely of the two avenues) Martin this offseason. Thus, this is a valid question: Could Martin fit with the San Francisco 49ers?

Expect the 49ers to be one of the teams most connected to Martin once he is free. The reason, of course, Martin played for 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and several assistant coaches at Stanford.

Harbaugh vouched for Martin’s character as part of the Wells Report. Harbaugh said this about Martin on Nov. 6 during the controversy in Miami: “As far as that situation, there’s only one thing I can intelligently comment on and that’s knowing Jonathan Martin. I know him to be a fine person and his family. [Martin was a] great contributor as a student and an athlete at Stanford, epitomizes the student-athlete model and a personal friend. I support Jonathan.”

Martin will need a strong support system within a franchise to have a successful return to the NFL. The 49ers could provide that. The 49ers could offer a stable, veteran-led locker room in addition to having coaches he is familiar with. Several 49ers players condemned the Miami situation while it was happening. The San Francisco offensive line is a close-knit, easy-going group. I can’t foresee Martin having trouble fitting in.

Does Martin fit in San Francisco on the field? The team is set with starting tackles Joe Staley and Anthony Davis. But tackle is a premium position and Martin, a former second-round pick, would be a talented addition.

I’m not saying Martin will next be donning a San Francisco uniform. But if he continues playing, there are many reasons to think the 49ers could be a possibility.

Harbaugh supports Jonathan Martin

November, 6, 2013
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Jim Harbaugh said he does have a policy on hazing and bullying in the NFL.

However, he doesn’t think the time is right to express it because of what is going on in Miami between offensive lineman Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito.

“Yeah, I could and I’d be glad to at a different time,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think that this is the forum for that discussion. But you bring that up to me at some point where it’s not related to this story, like I said, anything else is hearsay on my part.”

However, Harbaugh’s attention is on the case in Miami. He was the college coach of Martin at Stanford. Martin has accused Incognito of harassing him and has left the team. The Dolphins suspended Incognito.

“As far as that situation, there’s only one thing I can intelligently comment on and that’s knowing Jonathan Martin,” Harbaugh said. “I know him to be a fine person and his family. [Martin was a] great contributor as a student and an athlete at Stanford, epitomizes the student-athlete model and a personal friend. I support Jonathan.”

Harbaugh declined to comment on whether he’s reached out to Martin.

“I don’t have any comment on that, or anything else because I wasn’t there,” Harbaugh said. “Not in the locker room there, didn’t see anything, didn’t hear anything, and didn’t talk to anybody that did. So, anything I would have to say in any regard would be hearsay.”

Several 49ers have said there are no such issues in their locker room. It starts with the coaching staff.

“Here, it starts with Coach Harbaugh,” 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. “He doesn’t want anything of that stuff happening. And then it goes to the veterans guys to make sure we [don’t] have any trouble. But we don’t do any of that stuff here, anyway.”
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin wants people to know they might have the wrong impression of Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Jonathan Martin over the whole hazing situation.

“I know Jonathan’s character,” said Baldwin, who was Martin’s teammate at Stanford. “He’s a great guy and a great friend of mine. He’s never been in any trouble. For this situation to happen it had to be very serious.

Baldwin
“There are some people saying that Jonathan Martin is soft. For anybody to say he can’t handle it is really disappointing to me, and it’s disappointing that our society even has to question it. It’s pathetic to me. We need to look at these things logically and with common sense.”

Baldwin said he believes Martin did the right thing in leaving the team.

“What option did he have?” Baldwin asked. “He could have fought [Richie] Incognito. He could have told on the guys involved, which we know doesn’t go over well in a football locker room, or he could remove himself from the situation, which he did. I think he made the right decision.”

Baldwin said he called Martin this week.

“I reached out to him just to make sure he was OK,” Baldwin said. “I just wanted him to know I was here for him.”

Seattle free safety Earl Thomas said he doesn’t think a similar hazing problem would happen with the Seahawks.

“We have so many great leaders here we don’t have to worry about that," Thomas said. "You never know the type of background guys come from. A lot of guys come from a rugged background. I know where I’m from [Orange, Tex.) the weak don’t survive. But I don’t think it would ever get to that point here. We would nip it in the bud real quick.”

Cardinals haze but know their limits

November, 5, 2013
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- As more information comes to light about how Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito reportedly bullied teammate Jonathan Martin beyond the rookie hazing phase, one comment has stood out to players in the Arizona Cardinals' locker room.

Incognito crossed a line when he used a racial slur toward Martin, Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.

"There's no place in our game, no place in our society for that type of behavior," Fitzgerald said Tuesday.

According to multiple reports, Incognito left Martin a voicemail in April in which he uses the slur among other derogatory comments.

Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett has had his own issues with Incognito from years of facing him in the trenches when Incognito played for the St. Louis Rams. Dockett wasn't surprised to hear about the offensive lineman verbally assaulting his teammate. Not just any teammate, Dockett pointed out, but the one guy who lines up next to you on the left side of the offensive line every Sunday.

"I don't think no one in the NFL in the last 70 years would do something like that," Dockett said. "That's why I said it doesn't surprise me that that guy does it. Everybody talking about it and I'm looking like, are you surprised he did that?

"When you try to bully a guy on your team, that's so classless to me. I feel bad for the young guy because I do feel like, as a veteran, you're supposed to help the young guys develop and help him develop to be a better player on and off the field, and not abuse him and send him text messages and call him the N-word and things like that.

"Again, I don't have no respect for the guy."

Allegedly, Incognito's disdain toward Martin began last season when Martin was a rookie. The Dolphins hazed the rookies, like every team in the league does, said Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby, who played for the Dolphins the past three seasons. It's a rite of passage in the eyes of the veterans, who went through the same rituals when they entered the league.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has put restrictions on his veterans. This year's rookies were allowed to bring veterans breakfast and water, and carried their pads and helmets off the field after practice. During training camp, one night was dedicated to giving the rookies haircuts.

That was the worst of it, and Arians made sure of it.

"You just go and say it, 'This is all you're allowed to do,'" Arians said. "We let our guys cut some hair and hair grows back. Your feelings get hurt a little bit if you have an ugly haircut but at least you can fix it in a month. That's the extent of what we're going to do around here.

"I don't worry about it because I don't see that happening here."

Dockett said the Cardinals' vets treat rookies with the Golden Rule -- Do on to others as you'd want others to do on to you. To Dockett, that means no name calling, no bullying, nothing that would make them look at the vets as adversaries.

While the general idea of rookie hazing is to form a bond that will withstand a season and potentially even longer, they're still teammates at the end of the day, Dockett said. And why would a veteran want to harm a relationship that could help the team in the long run, Dockett wondered.

"We still understand that that's one of our teammates and we're going to need him at some point," Dockett said. "We want them to look at us like big brothers, if they have any questions. We don't want a young guy looking at us like we're an enemy, [thinking] he don't like us and things like that. That's not how you build chemistry at all because I do believe at some point on every football team you're going to need a young guy to step up and play a big part and a role in trying to have some success.

"We don't come close to that."

XTRA910 audio: Laying it on the line

November, 10, 2012
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The San Francisco 49ers own the best offensive line in the NFC West.

It features three first-round draft choices.

The Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams own the worst lines in the division.

Theirs feature no first-rounders.

These things came to mind Friday when Dan Bickley asked about potential draft plans for the Cardinals in 2013. Our conversation on XTRA Sports 910 AM covered additional ground, and lots of it, including what Oregon coach Chip Kelly would bring to the NFL.

We generally wouldn't discuss draft prospects for a team with a 4-5 record, seven games remaining and a recent history of finishing strong. But with the Cardinals losing five in a row and turning to rookie seventh-round choice Nate Potter at left tackle, it's time.

NFL teams list seven rookie tackles as starters heading into Week 10. Five were first- or second-round choices. The other two are starting for the Cardinals: right tackle Bobby Massie (fourth round) and Potter.

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