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Martin says he feels welcomed by 49ers

03/13/2014 8:55 PM

03/14/2014 11:57 AM

Jonathan Martin said he’s exchanged texts with one new linemate, Joe Staley, in the last two days and had a Twitter conversation with another, Anthony Davis.

“I can tell already that I’m going to get along just great with those guys,” said Martin, an offensive tackle whose trade from the Dolphins to the 49ers became official Thursday. “I felt a warm welcome from the entire 49ers community – fan base, coaching staff, everybody.”

That warmth, of course, is in stark contrast to the messy ordeal Martin went through with the Miami Dolphins, the team that drafted him in the second round two years ago. Martin left the team in October amid allegations of bullying inside the locker room, especially from his fellow linemen. The details – often salacious, vulgar and ugly – were in a 144-page independent report commissioned by the NFL.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Martin was determined not to wade into the past. Asked if he felt any regrets about what happened last year, he said, “You can say, ‘This or that could have gone differently,’ but hindsight is 20-20. My focus is 100 percent on the future and moving forward.”

Asked what he would say to those who think he broke a locker-room code and should have toughed it out, he said, “I’m not worried about that. All that’s in the past at this point.”

Instead he said he was looking forward to joining his new team.

Ever since he left the Dolphins, the 49ers seemed like a probable landing spot. Jim Harbaugh, who recruited Martin out of North Hollywood when Harbaugh was coaching Stanford, called Martin a “personal friend” when news of Martin’s absence broke five months ago. Harbaugh also spoke highly and confidently of Martin in the independent report.

After leaving Miami, Martin returned to Stanford to train and to finish his degree in the classics. The campus is a 15-minute drive from the 49ers’ headquarters in Santa Clara, and Harbaugh’s top two assistants, Vic Fangio and Greg Roman, also were with Harbaugh when Martin was at Stanford.

The 49ers appear to have a spot on the roster for Martin, who started 23 games at left or right tackle for the Dolphins.

They have been looking for a so-called “swing tackle” who can step in if either Staley or Davis is injured. Last year, right guard Alex Boone had that role.

“It’s a blank slate for me,” Martin said. “I’m looking forward to revitalizing my career, getting going.”

The 49ers traded a conditional seventh-round pick to Miami for Martin. If he’s not on the team’s 53-man roster in September, the 49ers won’t owe the Dolphins anything.

As a classics major, Martin has studied the Greek gods, read Plato and is currently reading about Odysseus’ long, perilous journey home from the Trojan War. Does he feel a little like the main character?

“I like that analogy,” Martin said. “... I do feel like I’m at home. I feel like I’m back in California, back around the people I know. And I’m looking forward to playing football again in a month.”

The 49ers also are looking at cornerbacks and wide receivers on the free-agent market. Two cornerbacks – Chris Cook, who played four seasons for the Vikings, and a former enemy, Walter Thurmond of the Seahawks – visited their facility late Thursday.

The 49ers also are hosting Patriots free-agent wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is from Redwood City, and have interest in former Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks, according to ESPN.

Thurmond, who played in 12 games for the Seahawks last year, can play the nickel position, a spot Carlos Rogers filled the last three seasons. The 49ers released Rogers on Tuesday, and he and the team’s other longtime starter at the position, Tarell Brown, are free agents.

Thurmond started three games last year, including the team’s Week 2 win over the 49ers. He knocked away two passes in that game and finished with six batted-away passes on the season. He was suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

During the 2013 offseason, Harbaugh made note of the Seahawks’ string of performance-enhancing-drug violations, chiding his rivals that a team should be “above reproach.”

About This Blog

Matt Barrows 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 Sacramento Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the San Francisco 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green. Reach Barrows at mbarrows@sacbee.com.
Twitter: @mattbarrows

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