Tuesday’s news that Jonathan Martin had been traded to the San Francisco 49ers couldn’t have been better news for Martin or the Miami Dolphins. For Martin, this marks the end of the Richie Incognito saga that ignited a national conversation about bullying in the NFL. For the Dolphins, the move allows them to move on as an organization.
Martin will be playing under a familiar face too. Jim Harbaugh was Martin’s head coach at Stanford, and there’s little doubt that connection likely pushed the 49ers towards pulling the trigger on a trade to bring Martin to San Francisco.
Martin joins a team that is already well set up on the offensive line, but if nothing else, the 49ers do lack depth. Martin has the ability to be a plug-and-play player, meaning he’ll likely see time on the field for a number of positions, unless of course an offensive tackle goes down due to injury for an extended period of time. In that case Martin would likely step in to fill that role.
Martin’s transition to the 49ers should be about as smooth as you could possibly accept. He’ll be working with a head coach that he is comfortable with, meaning there shouldn’t be any hesitation on Martin’s part to bring any concerns he has to Harbaugh. Considering the Harbaugh is a far more vocal coach than most in the league, discipline isn’t likely an issue in the 49ers’ locker room anyway.
On the east coast, the Dolphins are likely every bit as happy to move on from Martin as he is to move on from them. Martin can be a solid player, but the negative attention that was brought on by Incognito’s actions towards Martin ultimately eliminated Martin’s ability to make a positive impact with the team.
Since the trade was reported, at least some players are glad to see Martin gone.
Text from a Dolphins player who obviously heard of Martin trade: "Addition by subtraxtion." I don't care he misspelled subtraction.
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) March 12, 2014
To be perfectly honest, the 49ers likely acquired Martin simply because they saw an opportunity to snag a quality player for a cheap price. Everyone in the league knew the Dolphins didn’t really want to keep Martin. Because of Harbaugh’s connection to Martin, the 49ers had more knowledge of the type of player Martin is than most other teams.
This isn’t a blockbuster deal that changes the landscape of the NFC and AFC. It does, however, serve multiple purposes. The 49ers were able to solidify their offensive line with a player that can move around as needed, and the Dolphins can now fully move on from the bullying scandal that forced them into the limelight last season. In technical terms, we call that a win-win.