The way Marquise Goodwin approaches competition lends itself to track and field, which might be why he’s itching to get back to the long jump on the world’s largest stage.
“If I focus on the competition,” the receiver said after a 49ers minicamp practice Tuesday, “then I’m not able to put the work in and critique myself and find the little nuances and things I need to make myself better to put me above the competition.”
It makes sense given the long jump is an individual sport. Goodwin, 28, doesn’t have to worry about going against defenders like he does in football. His focus can remain on himself and what he can do to jump farther – not what defenses are doing to stop him. It’s one of the reasons why he’s “100 percent” committed to returning to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 to participate in the long jump in 2020.
The caveat, of course, is Goodwin is under contract with the 49ers, who might not be thrilled with the idea of Goodwin shifting his focus to something outside of the NFL during a critical point in the league calendar. He received a three-year extension in April 2018 worth up to $20.3 million guaranteed on the heels of his breakout 2017 campaign. He’s linked to San Francisco through 2021.
“It’s just offseason. The same way I did it in high school, college, NFL. Just make it happen,” said Goodwin, the former track star at the University of Texas. “It’s all on my off time. I use it as part of my training. What I do in long jump in track and field definitely correlates with what I do as a receiver with being fast, being explosive, putting my foot down. It’s the same mechanics that I use in football and track. They go hand in hand with each other.”
Another caveat: the Tokyo Olympics are slated for July 24 through August 9 in 2020, which will likely be when the 49ers start training camp. It’s unknown if the team would be willing to let Goodwin go to his second Olympics if it conflicts with the unofficial start of the football season.
Goodwin’s first and only Olympic experience happened in London in 2012, when he finished 10th after qualifying for the finals with the second-best jump (8.11 meters). He failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio because of a hamstring injury. His personal best in competition is 8.45 meters, which would have been good enough for gold medals in London and Rio.
Goodwin also plans on participating in a pay-per-view sprinting tournament among other NFL players tabbed, “40 Yards of Gold” slated for later this month. He’s said in the past he considers himself the fastest player in the league and will get a chance to prove it in the 16-player field.
In the meantime, Goodwin figures to be a key member of a new-look group of 49ers receivers. The team used a second-round draft pick for the second straight year on the position to take Deebo Samuel, who is expected to start early in his career alongside Dante Pettis, who has played well in practices open to reporters this spring. The team also used a third-round pick on Baylor’s Jalen Hurd and brought in Jordan Matthews, who had a promising beginning to his career with the Eagles.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has said the reinforcements were meant to take the pressure off Goodwin and use him in a more specialized role.
Goodwin’s at his best as a deep threat, where he can utilize his world-class speed (he ran a blistering 4.27 in the 40 at the 2013 combine). But he’s dealt with injuries throughout his career, including a deep quadriceps contusion in the 2018 season opener that added to the laundry list of injuries on Shanahan’s offense.
“He’s had to play a lot more than you would like. He’s had to do some routes a lot more than you would like. He’s capable of doing them all. But you want to put people on what they’re best at,” Shanahan said.
Goodwin has made a yearly habit of playing well during the offseason program, when there are no pads at practice and tackling isn’t allowed. His speed and athleticism stand out, but durability has been an issue since he was taken by the Buffalo Bills in the third round of the 2013 draft. He’s missed 26 games in his six seasons to due a myriad of injuries – and played all 16 games just once, coming in his 967-yard first year with San Francisco in 2017.
“‘Quise looks good all the time in the offseason, because he’s healthy, he can run and he’s extremely hard to cover,” said Shanahan. “I think ‘Quise and us were just hoping we could keep this going and keep him healthy. I think it would be easier to do that with some of the other guys that we brought in.”