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The Evolution of 49ers WR Marquise Goodwin

Exactly one calendar year since signing a two-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers, Marquise Goodwin has inked a three-year extension to remain with the club through 2021. It's a deal Goodwin earned by becoming a reliable playmaker in 2017.

Goodwin posted a career-high 56 receptions for 962 yards in his first year with the 49ers. A concussion in Week 17 cost him a chance at his first 1,000-yard season. The numbers illustrate the impressive evolution of a player who arrived as a relatively unknown.

We wrote (at nauseam) about how Goodwin spent four seasons as a deep-ball specialist with the Buffalo Bills. We labored over the fact that the 49ers planned to turn the former track star into a polished, every-down wide receiver. Mission accomplished.

That's not to say there weren't growing pains. After dominating on the practice field during OTAs and training camp, Goodwin struggled out of the gates during the regular season. His early inconsistencies were highlighted by a few costly drops. Pressure mounted following a season-ending neck injury to Pierre Garçon, making Goodwin the 49ers de-facto No. 1 receiver.

Goodwin responded by posting an average of six receptions for 79 yards over the final five games with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. As Chris Biderman pointed out, that pace would put Goodwin at 96 catches for 1,229 yards over a full 16-game season. His back-to-back 100-yard performances in wins against the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans were preceded by an eight-catch, 99-yard day against the Chicago Bears.

Goodwin's improved route tree was on full display down the stretch. He made contested grabs in traffic on third downs while still showcasing his ability to create explosive plays downfield. As Antonio Brown noted on Twitter, Goodwin's seven receptions within 1-yard of the sideline ranked tied for third among NFL wide receivers. Many of those catches were highlight-reel grabs.

What made Goodwin's 2017 campaign even more impressive was his production amid unimaginable tragedy. Who could forget his 83-yard touchdown catch against the New York Giants just a day removed from the loss of his infant child. He mourned the passing of his late father just weeks later.

Goodwin's teammates voted him as the organization's 2017 Len Eshmont Award winner, given annually to the player who best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont.

"From the minute Marquise joined our team, he has shown us everything we want to see in a 49er," John Lynch said in the team's official press release announcing the extension. "He leads by example with a tremendous work ethic, a trait that helped him expand his repertoire as a football player and post his most successful season as a pro last year. Marquise earned this extension by coming in every day focused on doing his job and, as a result, he made himself and his teammates better."

Maybe the biggest takeaway from Goodwin's extension is that he's a perfect example of what Kyle Shanahan is looking for in a wide receiver. Shanahan told reporters last week at the NFL Combine that he wants elite traits, not specific height and weight measurements.

"We need good receivers," Shanahan explained. "They come in all shapes and sizes."

Goodwin is Exhibit A. Shanahan believes enough in himself (as well as the rest of his coaching staff) to turn raw athleticism and potential into consistent production. I think that fact is something to keep in mind when free agency rolls around next week.

Does Goodwin's extension mean that the 49ers won't add a wide receiver? Not necessarily. But it absolutely means that the team believes in who they already have on the roster.

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