- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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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.
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.