Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bullied former Dolphin doing fine with 49ers

Though Martin's a bit rusty after long layoff

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BALTIMORE -- A little more than nine months ago, Jonathan Martin walked off the field following the Miami Dolphins' 27-17 Week 8 loss to the New England Patriots.

He wouldn't suit up in another NFL game until Thursday night, the preceding 283 days highlighted by accusations of bullying against then-Dolphins guard Richie Incognito and several teammates, a missed final eight games of the 2013 season, an NFL investigation and a mid-March trade that sent him across the country to the San Francisco 49ers. And if that wasn't enough, Martin then ended up missing more than three weeks of team OTAs this spring following a bout with mononucleosis that sapped him of 12 pounds and a decent amount of energy.

All of those trials seemed to be behind the 24-year-old lineman during his first game with the 49ers, a 23-3 pre-season loss that saw Martin in the lineup for the entire first half. Martin started at right tackle over Anthony Davis, who is still rehabbing an offseason shoulder injury, then switched to the left side once Pro Bowler Joe Staley exited the game.

"New year, new season," Martin said after the game. "I'm just excited to be a part of the 49ers and be back to work."

The 49ers have longtime starters at both tackle spots, so Martin isn't likely to unseat Staley or Davis at any point as long as both remain healthy. But with right guard Alex Boone holding out, the third-year player's versatility to play inside will likely benefit the team depth-wise at four potential positions.

"I'm just trying to stay ready and be ready to go at right or left (tackle) or right or left guard," Martin said. "Whatever's asked of me."

While Martin said he felt good during his first game action since October, he seemed rusty against the Ravens. He was called for a false start early in the second quarter and struggled at times on both pass and run plays. He had a hard time containing Baltimore linebacker Pernell McPhee while trying to protect quarterback Blaine Gabbert's blind side on the final play of the first half. On the 49ers' first offensive series, he blew a run block after tripping in front of Ravens safety Darian Stewart on a right sweep.

Those struggles aside, Martin's fellow linemen are publicly saying all of the right things about their new teammate, something the Wells report proved was certainly not going on behind the scenes in Miami.

"He's been doing real well in camp," Staley said, noting that Martin's had no problems acclimating to the 49ers. "We're excited to have him."

While Martin continues to move forward in the pre-season, there has been no disciplinary action by the NFL against the three biggest participants in the bullying scandal that facilitated his exit from the Dolphins. Mike Pouncey remains Miami's starting centre while guard John Jerry signed a free agent deal with the New York Giants in the off-season. Incognito, who was suspended by the Dolphins for the final seven games of 2013, remains a free agent.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell refused to answer definitively when asked by the Newark Star-Ledger last Friday if any of the trio could still face suspension from the league.

"It's a broad issue. I would say that the one person who has been very responsive in going through the program has been Richie Incognito," he told the paper. "We're working with his people and monitoring his progress on that front."

-- USA Today

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 10, 2014 B4

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