Sportress of Blogitude

Jim Harbaugh refers to Jonathan Martin trade as an ‘Etch-a-Sketch opportunity’


The San Francisco 49ers acquired offensive lineman Jonathan Martin from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 7th-round pick in 2015 if he’s on 49ers’ opening 53-man roster. This gives Martin a chance to put his nightmarish experience with the Miami Dolphins in the rear view mirror after his became the central figure in the bullying scandal that engulfed Miami’s locker room after allegations surfaced involving the mistreatment of Martin by Richie Incognito.

The move makes sense on several fronts, most notably that Martin and 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh have a history. Harbaugh recruited and coached Martin at Stanford and the coach even referred to the offensive lineman as “a personal friend.”

Harbaugh’s loyalty to his former collegiate player was spelled out when he explained how he hopes that the trade will allow Martin the chance for a fresh start in his NFL career, referring to it interestingly as an “Etch-a-Sketch” opportunity.

“Because of my relationship recruiting Jonathan, and [I] coached Jonathan for three years at Stanford, I’m confident he will be committed to the mission and the organization, and very excited about it,” Harbaugh said, according to an Associated Press report (via Shutdown Corner). “I believe everybody deserves an Etch-A-Sketch opportunity and an opportunity to start a new chapter.”

Never heard that one before — Etch-a-Sketch opportunity — but what fitting imagery.

Harbaugh stressed loyalty wasn’t the only reason behind the trade, stating under no uncertain terms that he expects it to be mutually beneficial roster move, both for the 49ers and for Martin.

“The goal for this transaction is a win-win,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a great opportunity for Jon to demonstrate to the football world that he’s a football player and worthy of his high draft status. It’s a great opportunity for our organization to add a second-round pick into our organization.”

Harbaugh went to bat for his former player previously, defending him when interviewed during the NFL’s investigation into the Dolphins bullying scandal. Harbaugh was quoted in the Wells Report as follows (via Shutdown Corner):

“(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.”

It continued:

“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’┬álocker room.”

Whether or not Martin succeeds and is able to resume his pro football career under the guidance of his college coach remains to be seen, but at least he’s getting the chance, presumably in an environment where at least one guy will have his back … the most important guy in the locker room, it could be argued.