Versatile Martin looks to earn 49ers roster spot
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Early in his career, Jonathan Martin had a harder time keeping plays straight while shifting from one side of the offensive line to the other.
That ability and versatility now might help earn him a job with the San Francisco 49ers after what coach Jim Harbaugh considers an impressive first training camp with the team.
Martin feels fit and well adapted in the offense and his new surroundings, having moved past a three-week bout with mononucleosis this spring and his tumultuous departure from the Miami Dolphins last October amid a bullying scandal.
These days, it's all about football.
''I have clear eyes looking forward, focused on being a part of this team,'' Martin said Friday. ''I'm just looking forward and doing my best to continue my NFL career and contribute to a team that's as good as the 49ers.''
The 25-year-old Martin is concerning himself with all that he can control to earn a spot on the 53-man roster when final cuts are complete Aug. 30. He has started both preseason games at right tackle in place of starter Anthony Davis, who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Martin also has played snaps on the left side. He is at full strength after the May bout with mono and the weight loss that came with it.
''That's how I look at it: control the controlables. I'm doing my best to play well in these last two preseason games and whatever happens happens and I'll have no regrets in the effort I put out and in my film study and work ethic,'' Martin said. ''There's still stuff I'm cleaning up technique wise,'' Martin said. ''I'm starting to think less and play faster and that's kind of the goal heading into Week 1.''
Harbaugh has called this another important week for Martin and all his players.
''Jonathan Martin has done very well. Been a great addition to our football team. Sure glad we got him,'' Harbaugh said. ''Like everybody else on our football team, working to improve in certain areas. He's been very effective and efficient.''
San Francisco, winless in its first two preseason games and outscored 57-3 after a 34-0 rout by Denver last weekend, is scheduled to host the San Diego Chargers on Sunday afternoon at Levi's Stadium. New sod was laid Friday after the initial grass failed to hold up as long as expected. It had divots after Sunday's game and became slippery Wednesday, forcing the 49ers to stop midway through an open practice.
Harbaugh said the field wouldn't affect him letting his starters go deeper into the game, as is the usual plan with the third preseason game.
That could mean Martin has a longer stint against the Chargers. He has played 57 snaps so far, and he's ready to mix it up at different spots again if asked.
''It's been good, just trying to do my best so I can flip all the plays in my head left to right and right to left and be ready to go wherever I'm called on,'' he said. ''It was (hard) early on in my career, not as much anymore. Make sure I'm sharp and know what I'm doing out there.''
Each day he pulls on a 49ers uniform and takes to the practice field is another that puts him further from last season. Martin left the Dolphins in late October, accusing teammate Richie Incognito of bullying. An NFL investigation determined Incognito and two other Dolphins offensive linemen engaged in persistent harassment of Martin.
''It's been great, everything expected and more,'' Martin said of his new home. ''It's a talented team, a great group of guys and it's fun to be part of something special.''
NOTES: S Antoine Bethea is expected to be medically cleared for the game after last Sunday's concussion, but Harbaugh said he probably won't play. ... Harbaugh hasn't heard from the NFL about a possible suspension for LB Aldon Smith following his off-field legal issues, and the coach isn't sure when he will know more. ''I haven't gotten any indication, I don't know,'' Harbaugh said. ''My crystal ball, I don't have it.'' ... A few weeks post-surgery on his torn biceps, there is belief NT Glenn Dorsey could return before the end of the season. ''All indications that I've gotten is that it looks like a three-and-a-half month that he would be out,'' Harbaugh said.
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