SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jonathan Martin has had Jim Harbaugh's support all along, from his early college days at Stanford to the offensive tackle's tumultuous year in which he accused a Dolphins teammate of bullying, and even in a formal NFL investigation into the situation in Miami.
Now, Harbaugh is giving Martin a football fresh start, in a safe environment around former Stanford coaches who consider him a friend.
Martin was traded from Miami to the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday night to play once more for Harbaugh, who publicly expressed his support of Martin last year and called him a "personal friend."
"The goal for this transaction is a win-win," Harbaugh said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday morning. "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."
The Dolphins announced the move late on the first day of NFL free agency. San Francisco then confirmed the trade, saying only that it would send an undisclosed draft choice to Miami and that Martin still must pass a physical to complete the deal.
"Big news.... Beyond Blessed ... Opportunities are few in the NFL... Can't wait to get to work (hashtag)9erEmpire," Martin posted on Twitter.
The 24-year-old Martin's move should be a simple one considering he's already in town — back on the Stanford campus taking classes. Harbaugh spoke with Martin on Tuesday night after the trade and expected Martin to arrive at team headquarters for a physical Wednesday or Thursday.
"Because of my relationship recruiting Jonathan, and 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. "I believe everybody deserves an Etch-A-Sketch opportunity and an opportunity to start a new chapter."
An investigation for the NFL determined last month that Dolphins guard Richie Incognito and two other offensive linemen engaged in persistent harassment of Martin, another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer.
"As far as that situation, there's only one thing I can intelligently comment on and that's knowing Jonathan Martin," Harbaugh said in November. "I know him to be a fine person and his family. ... (He) epitomizes the student-athlete model and a personal friend. I support Jonathan."
The trade capped a busy first day for the 49ers, who lost to the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game.
Martin left the Dolphins in late October, underwent counseling for emotional issues and alleged he was harassed by teammates. Incognito was then suspended for the final eight games.
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