Last week, the San Francisco 49ers acquired offensive tackle Jonathan Martin from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a conditional 2015 seventh round draft pick. The 49ers give up the pick if Martin makes the season-opening 53-man roster. Given that Martin is not guaranteed anything through the rest of his contract, the deal operates basically as a free tryout for the 49ers.
I emailed Kevin from The Phinsider to get his thoughts on Martin:
I was really excited when the Dolphins managed to draft Jonathan Martin in the second round two years ago, especially since he was originally templated to be the team's first round pick if the club did not pick Ryan Tannehill. To pull off both Tannehill and Martin appeared to be a steal.
Then, Martin got on the field. Miami started him at right tackle, with Jake Long still on the left side. Martin played decently, but he was clearly a rookie and was making rookie mistakes. When Long was injured near the end of the season, Martin was moved to the left side, the position he played in college, and he again looked like a rookie trying to get used to the speed of the game.
In his second season, Martin was installed as the team's left tackle, replacing Long who moved to the St. Louis Rams. He never seemed comfortable, and it was never pretty. He was clearly overmatched and it lead to the team having no choice but to make the trade for Bryant McKinnie. Martin moved back to the right side for one game, before leaving the franchise and kicking off the bullying scandal that rocked the team the rest of the year.
Martin is simply a project. For whatever reason, he simply struggled on the field at the NFL level. It's now known he has depression issues, and maybe those played into his struggles - getting two critical of himself after every struggle. Obviously, that's pure speculation, but something just never seemed to work once Martin was out of his comfort area of his family and California.
The bullying scandal is going to get a lot of focus, and I really think it should have been handled differently by Martin - primarily, talk to head coach Joe Philbin or GM Jeff Ireland before it got to the point where he had to leave - but what's done is done, and it's time for everyone to move on. For Martin, landing in San Francisco is absolutely the best option for him, and I would like to think the Dolphins did that, knowing it was best for the player. Don't expect to see a starting caliber tackle right away, but I would not be surprised if, with psychological help and a restart under Jim Harbaugh, he does develop into a good player.
I followed up to get some quick thoughts on potentially moving Martin to guard. There has been no word from the 49ers on what they plan on doing with him, but a move inside to guard is not out of the realm of the possible.
He probably could play well as a guard. He struggles against speed rushers, and doesn't set the edge well enough. Moving him insider and letting him develop against the speed of the NFL game, then trying him again out at tackle may be a good plan to get something out of him this year.