The next chapter in Jonathan Martin’s NFL career will take place in San Francisco after the 49ers traded a draft pick to the Miami Dolphins to reunite Martin with his college coach.
There are 32 teams in the NFL, but not every organization and certainly not every locker room are created equal. If Jonathan Martin can play (and making plays is how you get and keep a job in the NFL) then all this other crap will go away and he will be able to pick up the pieces of what was a once-promising career.
Will Martin hear his share of trash talk and possibly a few cheap shots when he’s on the field? You can bet on it because football is as much a mental as a physical game and if an opponent can bait the guy on the other side into making a mistake, they will do their best to get into Martin’s head. The meek will not inherit the earth or thrive in the brutally bottom-line world of pro football.
If Martin is mentally and emotionally weak, he won’t make it past the 49ers training camp and reasonably he shouldn’t. While he was the victim of a vicious hazing at the grubby hands of Richie Incognito and other Miami Dolphins players, Martin will still have to show he can take the punishment that will certainly be dished out at him.
There’s nowhere to hide on a football field and while landing in San Francisco with Jim Harbaugh, his old college coach, may be the optimum best-case scenario for Jonathan Martin, it’s still largely on him to show he belongs. If Harbaugh can’t rekindle Martin’s diminished competitive fires, nobody can.
Sorry if that seems harsh, but what’s harsh is often also true. Martin seems like a thoughtful young man who simply happened to get caught up in a bully’s brutal hazing but found no support from an unconcerned Dolphin coaching staff and front office.
“Because of my relationship recruiting Jonathan, and coached Jonathan for three years at Stanford, I’m confident he will be committed to the mission and the organization, and very excited about it,” Harbaugh said. “I believe everybody deserves an Etch-A-Sketch opportunity and an opportunity to start a new chapter.”
As a 49ers fan, nobody wants Martin to succeed more than I do, but nobody’s going to hand him a spot on the roster. He’s going to have to go out and earn it.