The San Francisco 49ers finalized the trade for offensive tackle Jonathan Martin on Thursday, as he passed his physical and was introduced to the media. Martin took part in a conference call (AUDIO), and it was actually quite interesting. It was filled with plenty of cliches, but he also addressed some rather interesting topics.
Martin was asked about his potential role with the team. Naturally he said he would do anything the team needed, and that he needed to earn his spot on the roster. He mentioned that he had played both tackle positions. He was asked about playing guard, and while he said he had no experience at guard, he did say he had heard it was easier transitioning towards the interior of the line as opposed to moving outside.
As the 49ers head into their offseason workout program and then training camp, I wouldn't be surprised if he got work at both offensive tackle positions, AND both guard positions. They might focus him on tackle, but given the youth on the OL reserves aside from Adam Snyder, it makes sense to see what he can do across the board.
Martin has been working out at Stanford since leaving the Dolphins, and he is also finishing up his degree. He said he was a Classics major, and that inspired a question about what languages he knows. He said he was not proficient in Greek, but his Latin was functional. Lowell Cohn asked him a few questions about his Classics background, which led to him talking about some recent books he has read. While Lowell bugs me when he's writing about football, this type of thing was right up his alley, and it was an interesting discussion. This could actually result in a decent article from Lowell, as opposed to his usual more troll-ish content.
Speaking of Martin, if you get a minute, read over this article at Sports on Earth by Mike Tanier. It talks about how the 49ers invest in penny stocks, looking to speculate on low level stocks that could end up paying big dividends. Martin is one such example. He could just not be a good NFL player, and that will be the end of it. But if he makes the 49ers roster, and even just develops into a decent backup, it will have been worth the 2015 seventh round pick given up.
Tanier made a good point about the competition it can bring. While a team like the Raiders might look at Martin as a guy they'd need to start right away, or at least let compete for a starting job, the 49ers know he will compete for no more than a backup job right now. It gives them a huge edge because it creates added competition at the bottom of the roster. When you have that kind of competition up and down the roster, it only boosts the potential of the team. As Jim Harbaugh likes to say, iron sharpens iron. This is one such potential example, for a veritable pittance.