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Harbaugh: Martin can resume successful NFL career

Published: Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 - 6:54 pm
Last Modified: Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 - 7:09 am

Jim Harbaugh was one of more than 100 people interviewed during an investigation of more than three months that culminated with Friday’s release of a 144-page report detailing “a pattern of harassment” among Miami Dolphins offensive linemen against teammate Jonathan Martin.

The 49ers coach was Martin’s coach at Stanford.

Harbaugh and current Stanford coach David Shaw said Martin fit in well inside the Stanford locker room.

“(Harbaugh) told us that he had never doubted Martin’s tenacity, work ethic and dedication to the game, and that he had never seen Martin exhibit problems with social adjustment,” the independent report by attorney Ted Wells says. “Coach Harbaugh told us he believed that Martin likely could continue to have a successful career in the NFL. It appears that Martin was up to the challenge of dealing with physical or verbal intimidation by opposing players during NFL games, but fell victim, at least in part, to persistent taunting from his own teammates.”

The report says that while there was ribbing inside the Stanford locker room and that Martin dealt with bouts of mild depression, he felt comfortable there. Furthermore, Harbaugh told Wells he didn’t think the 49ers’ locker room was all that different from Stanford’s.

“Although initially quiet, he became a vocal leader on the team by his final year,” the report reads. “Coach Harbaugh emphasized that he never doubted Martin’s physical or mental toughness, and he believes that Martin can continue to have a successful career in the NFL.”

Harbaugh’s comments make San Francisco a possible landing spot if Martin returns to the NFL. He played left tackle at Stanford and was a second-round pick by the Dolphins in 2012. Though the 49ers do not have a big need on the offensive line, they could use a young backup tackle who can play the right and left sides, which Martin has done. And, Martin currently is taking classes at Stanford.

Martin left the Dolphins during the 2013 season but still is under contract with them. For Martin to join another team, the Dolphins would have to release or trade him.

When allegations of bullying inside the Dolphins’ locker room broke in November, Harbaugh called Martin a “personal friend.”

“As far as that situation, there’s only one thing I can intelligently comment on and that’s knowing Jonathan Martin,” Harbaugh said Nov. 6. “I know him to be a fine person and his family. (He was a) great contributor as a student and an athlete at Stanford, epitomizes the student-athlete model and a personal friend. I support Jonathan.”


Read Matthew Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320.

Read more articles by Matthew Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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