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How 49ers Rookie Marcus Martin Became a Center

Posted Aug 3, 2014

To examine the San Francisco 49ers 12-man NFL Draft class, 49ers.com checked in with a college coach of each pick. We begin our series with third-round selection from USC.


To examine the San Francisco 49ers 12-man NFL Draft class, 49ers.com checked in with a college coach of each pick. We begin our series with...

Marcus Martin arrived at USC in 2011 as a left guard. He left as a center in '13 – and as the San Francisco’s third-round NFL Draft pick in '14.

What happened in between is the focus of this rookie report on Martin, who overcame an ankle injury at the start of training camp and is now competing to unseat presumptive starter Daniel Kilgore.

We phoned Trojans-turned-Florida Gators offensive line coach Mike Summers for his perspective on Martin's rise.

First Impressions
“Initially, when I arrived at ‘SC in 2013, Marcus was playing guard and hadn’t had a great year the year before,” Summers said. “I talked to him about the move to center, and he was excited about that. About halfway through spring, we made that move. There were some early growing pains with snap location and things like that. He needed to learn how to play with the ball in his hands, how to snap and step and snap in the shotgun. But he came in after spring and was really fired up about the move. He basically told me, ‘I want to be the best center in the country.’”

College Improvements
“I was impressed by his motivation," Summers said. "You hear that a lot from players and then you wait to see what kind of work backs it up. He spent the entire summer in my office everyday wanting to learn more about the position. The good players want to learn, and his motivation to learn was infectious for other guys on the team. All the while, in the weight room, he was building his body up.”

Greatest Strengths
“His personality is perfect for the center position,” Summers said. “He has to be a communicator, he has to be willing to make decisions and calls and be involved in the offensive scheme. Those are all strengths that he had. I can’t remember a single snap-exchange problem from the season. His execution, once the ball got snapped, was really impressive. We faced a lot of odd fronts throughout the season, and his production with a really good nose guard right on top of him was also really impressive.”

NFL Expectations
“He made himself into a really good football player. By the end of fall camp, I felt like he had a chance to be a really good player and, as the season progressed, I saw his opportunity to be a dynamic player and probably a great pro,” Summers said. “Everyone in the NFL that watched his video was amazed at what he was able to do. When I go back and watch his film, I’m even more impressed by it now that I’m removed from the season.

“I have been fortunate to have a lot of players get drafted and make careers in the NFL, including Eric Wood, with the Buffalo Bills. Marcus, I can see continuing on his path to being a great pro. He has just reached the tip of what he can achieve. All of his football is in front of him. I think the 49ers are going to get a lot out of this draft pick.”

Coach's Advice
“When I talked to him right after the draft, he was bouncing off the walls with enthusiasm,” Summers said. “The text I sent to him that night was, ‘Congratulations. Your dream has been realized.’ And then I put three periods and wrote, ‘Work hard.’”
 

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