Jonathan Martin earns fresh start with 49ers


Texting with 49ers tackle Joe Staley is apparently just a little different from texting with Richie Incognito.

After newly-signed tackle Jonathan Martin texted with the 49ers veteran, Martin said he feels more comfortable than he has in about six months.

The third-year Stanford alum has been welcomed by the coaching staff in San Francisco, but that might not be nearly as important as his interaction with other players.

Many detractors thought he might need to retire, yet for Martin, things are just getting started.

During a Thursday conference call, Martin said:

“I can tell already that I’m going to get along just great with those guys. I’ve felt a warm welcome from the entire 49ers community, fan base, coaching staff, everybody. I’m just looking forward to the future and getting back to playing football.”

The backstory: Martin was caught in the middle of an alleged bullying scandal in which the media may have disproportionately reported on.

A series of vulgar texts with teammate Incognito only further sullied a story that normally would have never left the locker room.

Martin wasn’t feeling warm vibes with his former team, the Miami Dolphins. So much so, that they basically gave him away — the 49ers getting him for a future seventh-round pick.

But coach Jim Harbaugh is happy to have him. The two know each other from their college days, when Harbaugh was the mentor and Martin was his pupil.

It’s a reunion of sorts, one that Martin says he is happy about:

“It’s a blank slate for me. I’m looking to revitalize my career, getting back to playing … I couldn’t be happier.”

With masses of depth on the offensive line, Staley and Anthony Davis being two of the league best tackles, there is no pressure for Martin to start. On paper, he appears fit to back either one up, though he could also be moved inside to guard if necessary.

Martin has never played guard, but his new teammates have told him that it’s much easier than switching from guard to tackle.

Regardless of where Martin plays, he says that his prior experience with Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman should be natural:

“It’s similar philosophy to when I was an undergrad at Stanford. It’s a smash-mouth, run-first offense. And we had a lot of success in college and they’ve had a lot of success, obviously, thus far in the NFL – coach Harbaugh’s coaching staff and the team. So I think they have a blueprint how to succeed in the NFL and in football, in general. So I’m excited to be a part of it and contribute to the team.”

There’s no doubting that the similarities are uncanny — from the run game to the passing game, to defensive superiority — but the talent levels are different. Much different.

There’s no guarantee that Martin makes the team, whether he and Harbaugh go back or not. It’s Trent Baalke’s decision in the long run.

But from a salary cap perspective, the same guy who helped Andrew Luck get drafted first overall in 2012, takes up less than one percent of the 49ers cap space.

Moreover, the upside for the team is enormous. After young tackles were just paid upwards of $30 million in free agency, the 49ers just got a starter for a relative bag of Oreos.

Nonetheless, Martin says he wants to work hard and do well by the team:

“The way I’m approaching it is, I have to earn my spot on this team. I’m a new guy in the locker room. They have one of the best O-lines, like I already said. I do have some starting experience. I’ve played both right tackle and left tackle, but at the same time I’m open to anything. I’m open to doing whatever is asked of me to contribute to the team. And that’s really all that matters to me at this point.”

Certainly, things couldn’t have worked out much better for Martin, or the 49ers.

Follow @SFBay and @JLeskiwNFL on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.

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