Even before the Ted Wells report was released Friday, Jonathan Martin's career in Miami was thought to be over. He left the team in late October claiming he was the victim of bullying, and according to the Wells report Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey had harassed Martin.
The lack of institutional control reflects badly on the ownership, front office and coaching staff, and speaks to larger issues in the Dolphins' organization. So while Martin almost certainly won't be returning to the Dolphins, his NFL career isn't over. In fact, the 49ers might end up being a perfect landing spot for the former second-round pick. He played for coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, and Harbaugh and current Cardinal coach David Shaw told Wells that Martin had no trouble fitting in with his college teammates.
"(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," Wells' report explained. "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."
While the report acknowledged that Martin dealt with ribbing from his Stanford teammates, and battled mild depression during that time, he felt comfortable. In fact, Harbaugh told Wells that he didn't think the 49ers' locker room was much different than Stanford's.
"Although initially quiet, he became a vocal leader on the team by his final year. 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. Coach Harbaugh also said that the atmosphere in the Stanford locker room, in his view, was not materially different from that of the San Francisco 49ers' locker room."
The Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows writes that, "This, of course, makes San Francisco a possible landing spot should Martin return to the NFL," but adds, "However, the 49ers do not have a big need along the offensive line. Still, they could use a young, backup tackle who can play both the right and left sides, which Martin has done. Furthermore, Martin currently is taking classes at Stanford."
At this stage of the proceedings, we're guessing Martin would happily accept a backup role if it meant reuniting with a former coach who, in November, referred to Martin as "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 at the time. "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."