Offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, whose trade to the 49ers from the Miami Dolphins became official on Thursday, took part in a conference call with Bay Area reporters. Here's some of what Martin had to say during his Q&A:
Was this the best-case scenario for you to continue your career?
“Absolutely. I think it worked out great to once again be playing for Coach Harbaugh, once again in the Bay Area. Playing for a winning franchise, a team that’s had a lot of recent success. And to hopefully be able to contribute to further success with this team.”
We all saw the Tweet from Anthony Davis shortly after the trade was announced. Have there been other teammates who have welcomed you in the last few days?
"Yes. I’ve texted with Joe Staley, as well as tweeted with Anthony Davis. I can tell already that I’m going to get along great with those guys. I’ve felt the 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.”
Coach Harbaugh talked about this as an Etch-A-Sketch opportunity, what do you see yourself doing with it and this unfolding?
"I think that’s a great analogy. It’s a blank slate for me. I’m looking forward to revitalizing my career and getting back to playing. I’ve started 23 games to this date.. I’m a young player but I’ve had some starting experience. I just want to do whatever I can to contribute to this O-line. It’s one of the best O-lines in football already. They have five great starters, so I just want to try to find my role on team. And do what I can help them get to the next level.”
You mentioned that you want to find your role with this team, what do you think that is? Have the coaches talked to you about position versatility and playing inside and outside?
“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.”
With everything that happened this last season for you, do you have any regrets about the way you handled it?
“You could say this or that could’ve done differently. Hindsight is 20-20. My focus is 100-percent on the future and moving forward. And, like Coach Harbaugh’s analogy, just shake that Etch-A-Sketch and move forward and get back to playing football.”
What was your involvement with Harbaugh during all of this? He said some nice things about you when it was happening during the season. Did you talk to him after you left the Dolphins?
“Yeah, I’ve always had a great relationship with Coach Harbaugh. He recruited me out of high school. He gave me an opportunity to start at tackle for a winning Stanford program for three years. His enthusiasm is infectious. You can see it at every level of the organization. It just rubs off on everybody. So to be around a winning atmosphere, a coach who’s focused on winning, is really the best situation I could’ve asked for.”
Did you keep in contact with him throughout this?
”I did not. I saw the those comments. They were great. I’m thankful for the support. Coach Harbaugh is a heck of a coach. I’m excited to be a part of the 49ers.”
How much consideration did you give to retiring and not going after a second chance?
”That didn’t even cross my mind at any point. I’m a football player. I’ve been a football player my entire adult life. My goal is to have success and an NFL career. I’m just looking forward to the future and succeeding for as long as I can as a member of the San Francisco 49ers and hopefully retiring as a 10-year vet.”
How long have you been back in complete football mode, as far as working out and setting your sights on the 2014 season?
“For quite a while now. Several months now. I’ve been in school at Stanford, so that gave me an opportunity to be around the strength-and-conditioning staff up there. It’s ne of the best in the nation. I think coach (Shannon) Turley, the head up there has won back-to-back collegiate awards for strength training. So just to be around that and, again, another winning program and their continued success, is what I want to be around. I’ve had a chance to be grinding away on the field for quite some time now. And I think it’s really going to pay dividends in the future.”
When you thought about the future, was this the first team that popped in your head?
”I was hoping (for) whatever would get me back on a football team and playing football again. I think it worked out great. This is a great organization. They’re that close to getting to the top. So just to be a part of that in a great locker room around great players, I couldn’t be happier.”
Have you had any experience playing guard?
”I’ve never played guard. I’ve played right and left tackle. But from what I’ve heard from others, the transition is easier going in than it is going out. I’ve never been inside. But I’m open to playing any position, be it guard, tackle, center, heavy tight end. Whatever’s asked of me, I’m ready to do it.”
What about the offensive system that Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh utilize do you think fits what you do as an offensive lineman?
”I think so. It’s a 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.”
Being back at Stanford around a bunch of NFL players, how has that helped you during this process?
”All those guys are my close friends: Andrew Luck, Richard Sherman, Chase Thomas, David DeCastro. All those guys, I know well. They never doubted me. They know me as a person. They know me as an individual, as a football player. It’s great to be around them. They’ve all had success so far in the pros. I’m going to continue with my own personal success and team success. That’s where my focus is now.”
What did it mean to you when Coach Harbaugh in November publicly spoke out on your behalf and called you a personal friend?
”It means a lot. I’ve known Coach Harbaugh for a number of years now. He recruited me out of high school. He’s a heck of a coach and he’s a standup guy. It means a lot when someone with that much credibility has your back. I’m excited once again to be a member one of his teams.”
There are some people who feel you broke some kind of NFL code by leaving the team and, perhaps, you should’ve “toughed it out.” What would be your response to those people?
”I’m not worried about that. All that’s in the past at this point. I’m just focused on moving forward and getting back to playing football. My focus is 100 percent on being a member of the 49ers, playing offensive line for the 49ers and helping this team win football games.”