Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Without rehashing the long-winded saga that took place with his former team, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin is a former starter coming to the 49ers as a backup looking to hit the restart button on his fairly new NFL career.
From the seats of many, this may be considered a steal.
Martin is set to be San Francisco’s “sixth man” on the line, functioning in its jumbo packages and providing an adept substitute in case left tackle Joe Staley or right tackle Anthony Davis go down during a game. And that’s his role in a nutshell: He is a high-caliber insurance policy that can periodically contribute because of the type of football this team plays.
And it should be cathartic for Martin.
Moreover, the 49ers only sent a 2015 conditional seventh-rounder to the Miami Dolphins for him. So if he doesn’t happen to make the final 53-man roster, the Niners keep the pick. Not a bad deal. If it doesn't work out, the Niners can hit the trapdoor and save their capital.
Now, the following is speculative but worth a mention.
If you recall the “trade” the 49ers made with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for cornerback Eric Wright, there’s a chance the team gets Martin for free. When Wright arrived, the 49ers failed him on his physical, which nullified the trade. He was then released by the Bucs shortly after.
After a few weeks of dillydallying and pretending they’d moved on, the 49ers signed Wright as a free agent. San Francisco didn’t lose a draft choice and still got the player it wanted.
If either tackle Luke Marquardt or Adam Snyder happen to “beat out” Jonathan Martin in training camp, where he doesn’t make the final cut, Martin would then become a free agent, again nullifying the trade. But since Martin wants to play for his former college coach Jim Harbaugh, it could again give them the inside track to sign him to a new deal.
Are the 49ers that conniving and do they really need to do all that to save a seventh-round pick? No. But this is one way this trade can look better for San Francisco down the road.