EEach offseason, we put together a series of articles called 90-in-90, in which we take a quick look at each member of the San Francisco 49ers 90-man training camp roster. For veterans, we look at why they might improve or regress, and what kind of impact we expect in the upcoming season. For rookies, we look at the expected impact, and odds of making the roster. With the season finished, it is time to look at how we did with some of those expectations for the rookies. Thus far, we have looked at Chris Borland, Jimmie Ward and Carlos Hyde.
Today, we move on to the 49ers third round pick, center Marcus Martin. The 49ers drafted Martin after moving down from the second round. The team had the 29th pick of the second round, but dealt that to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a third round pick (No. 6) and a fifth round pick (No. 10). They used the third round pick to select Martin out of USC. That would be the first of three third round picks for the 49ers.
David Neumann took a look at Martin in the 90-in-90 breakdown, and I projected a best and worst case scenario. In assessing Martin's expected 2014 impact, David suggested he was the front-runner at center, and should surpass Daniel Kilgore on the depth chart, barring an abysmal training camp and preseason. I suggested the best case involved Martin starting at center, even if there were some hiccups. I suggested the worst case was that he would spend the season as Kilgore's backup.
We were right in some ways and wrong in some ways. Kilgore was No. 1 on the depth chart, and it seemed likely that he was going to be in that role when Week 1 started. That became a certainty in Week 3 of the preseason when Martin suffered a dislocated kneecap. Martin was at center in the fourth quarter when the injury happened. The team elected not to place him on injured reserve with the return designation, as they instead used that for Glenn Dorsey. Instead, Martin remained on the 53-man roster, and was inactive through Week 7.
In Week 7, Kilgore suffered a leg/ankle fracture. Martin was not on the injury report that week, but was inactive. The 49ers went into their bye the following week, and in Week 9, Martin took over as the team's starting center. He missed a game in Week 15 with a knee injury, but was otherwise the starter the rest of the way.
Martin had his fair share of struggles. According to Pro Football Focus, Martin gave up 12 hurries, two quarterback hits, and two sacks in eight games. They graded him out at or near positive in three games, and decidedly negative in the other five. He was overwhelmed at times, struggling with assignments, and obviously much improved talent opposite him.
Of course, considering he was forced into the lineup in the middle of the season, I don't think it is entirely surprising he would struggle to some degree. Furthermore, Martin entered the NFL with only one season as a center at USC. The previous two years he played guard. This is not to say that he needs to improve considerably this coming year, but rather that there is in fact that room for growth. He got much needed experience as a rookie, and will head into 2015 training camp with a chance to make significant progress in year two.