By this point in his career, Marcus Martin should be making his presence felt on the 49ers offensive line.
The former center and guard at USC was a third-round pick of San Francisco in the 2014 draft, and at 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds, he came into the NFL with a reputation as a tough, physical player. With veteran center Jonathan Goodwin on his way out, Martin appeared to be a star in waiting.
After that 2014 draft, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock saw big things ahead for the former Trojan.
“This was the No. 1 center on my board,” he said. “This is a big-bodied kid who fits exactly what San Francisco is … a big, powerful, run-the-football kind of team.”
But as the 49ers continue to progress through their organized team activities (OTAs) this offseason, Martin is designated as the team’s second-team center behind Daniel Kilgore and his place on the roster could be in jeopardy. Martin has seen action over the past two seasons at both center and guard and underperformed at both.
“Marcus Martin has major issues,” wrote Greg DePalma of the analytics website Pro Football Focus after the 2015 season. “Martin has actually regressed from his rookie season and ranks 37th of 41 centers (rated by PFF).”
Now, the 49ers have brought in plenty of competition this offseason at both center and guard, and Martin – if he doesn’t improve under new offensive line coach Pat Flaherty – could be on the roster bubble in summer training camp.
The 49ers have converted former Oregon nose tackle Alex Balducci to center and believe he has potential at the position. Balducci currently is running with the third unit of the offensive line, and could push Martin.
Meanwhile, the 49ers traded up into the first round to bring in guard Josh Garnett and signed veteran free agent Zane Beadles, meaning Martin will be competing with holdovers Brandon Thomas, Ian Silberman, Erik Pears and Andrew Tiller as well as drafted rookies Fahn Cooper and John Theus for a backup job at guard.
If Balducci quickly develops at center and shows a more physical style than Martin has demonstrated in 2014 and 2015, Martin could be pushed off the roster after just two seasons.