Niners wide receiver Marquise Goodwin had the best season of his NFL career in 2017, catching 56 passes for 962 yards and two touchdowns.
Yet Goodwin believes he’s the same player he was his previous four seasons in Buffalo, when he caught a combined 49 passes. He just didn’t have the same opportunities he had with San Francisco.
When Santa Rosa Press Democrat columnist Grant Cohn recently asked him if he’d grown as a wide receiver in 2017, Goodwin said no.
“I’m the same player,” he said. “It’s not like I changed overnight and became this person who can catch or run a route. I won’t elaborate.”
What changed, he told Cohn, was the fact the 49ers threw him the football. First, it was Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard. At the end of the season, it was Jimmy Garoppolo. Over two games in December against the Texans and Titans, Goodwin was targeted 25 times by Garoppolo and had 16 receptions for 220 yards.
To Goodwin, all the hard work he’s put into his craft since being taken in the third round of the 2013 draft by Buffalo out of Texas paid off this past season with the 49ers, who finally gave him a chance to make plays.
Though known for his speed in Buffalo – he’s a former track star at Texas who also competed in the Olympics as a long jumper – Goodwin also proved to be a good route runner with nice hands in 2017.
Still, it’s his ability to turn even short receptions into long gains that makes Goodwin a terrific match with Garoppolo. Garoppolo showed terrific accuracy in his five starts with the 49ers at the end of the season, including an ability to connect with receivers in stride. That allows them to often make big yards after a catch.
And, in 2017, Goodwin showed measurable, elite speed.
As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reported this week, Goodwin had the fastest timed speed of any wide receiver making an offensive play this past season. A microchip in his shoulder pads analyzed by Sportradar timed Goodwin going 21.68 mph on a 55-yard pass-and-run play against Arizona.
The only wideout who had a better time all season was Ricardo Louis of the Browns, who was timed at 21.88 mph when he was trying to chase down a defensive back who had made an interception. The highest speed in the NFL in 2017 was turned in by safety Byron Jones of the Cowboys, at 22.11 mph, while chasing a ballcarrier. The other times faster than Goodwin this past season were by Patriots cornerbacks Malcolm Butler (22.07 mph) and Johnson Bademosi (21.72), Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (22.05 mph) and Rams running back Todd Gurley (21.98 mph).
Goodwin said this past season with the 49ers allowed him to finally show the league he’s a complete player.
“A lot of sprinters aren’t football players,” Goodwin told Cohn. “I’m a football player. That’s the difference between me and a sprinter. My knowledge of the game. I’m totally different than any other track guy.”