49ers’ 2018 ‘Who Is?’ series: Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 27: Marquise Goodwin #11 of the San Francisco 49ers poses for photo during warmups before the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on August 27, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 27: Marquise Goodwin #11 of the San Francisco 49ers poses for photo during warmups before the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on August 27, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Niner Noise’s 2018 “Who Is?” series looks at a breakout player from last year, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, and his possible impact this upcoming season.

Most probably considered San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin a bit of a “one trick pony” when he signed a two-year free-agent deal with the team in 2017.

The former track star ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine back in 2013, so he had speed on his side. But that was one of only a few big traits in his arsenal.

And after being drafted by the Buffalo Bills in Round 3, Goodwin never reached 450 receiving yards in a season.

But that was before his first year with San Francisco.

Marquise Goodwin Receiving & Rushing Table
4 yr4 yrBUF39101114978015.962
1 yr1 yrSFO16161055696217.220

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/26/2018.

In his first year as 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan (who loves speed) put more emphasis on Goodwin’s route-running abilities. The lack of proven receivers on San Francisco’s roster last year also put more pressure on Goodwin to deliver.

And he did.

Goodwin set career highs in yards (962) and receptions (56). But that doesn’t tell the whole story. No one who watched could forget his emotional 83-yard touchdown grab against the New York Giants in Week 10. This highlighted the Niners’ first win last season and came only hours after Goodwin lost his unborn son to pregnancy complications.

Yeah, he became a fan favorite.

With an influx of receiving talent in 2018, though, should we expect more of the same out of Goodwin in 2018?

Let’s take a look.

Why Marquise Goodwin Improves in 2018

Shanahan’s offense is one of the most complex in the NFL, and Goodwin now has a full year working within the system to his benefit.

One of the major bonuses was the ability to hone his route running — an element Goodwin wasn’t able to flash much during his time in Buffalo. And despite being only 5-foot-9 and 179 pounds, Goodwin was far more than just a slot-type receiver.

A key X-factor will be the return of a now-healthy Pierre Garçon, who missed the second half of 2017 with a neck injury. With Garçon out, Goodwin was asked to face off against more of the top-name corners in the league. Garçon, who’ll assume the 49ers’ No. 1 receiver spot, will now take that responsibility.

If it works, this should free up Goodwin to contend against lesser defensive backs.

And that could get Goodwin over the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. Especially with a full season working with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Why He Regresses

There’s always the chance Goodwin’s breakout season was a proverbial “flash in the pan.” And Garçon’s return could just as easily take away opportunities for Goodwin on the stat sheet.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Goodwin won’t impact the offense. After all, his ability to spread the field will do plenty of good for other receivers on San Francisco’s offense.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

Yet teams may elect to pass on focusing on Goodwin’s deep-ball abilities. As Niner Noise broke down earlier, Garoppolo isn’t exactly known as a deep-ball passer. Pro Football Focus‘ data backed that up too, which doesn’t bode well for a player known for his down-the-field speed.

It might not matter too much, as Goodwin is still a catch-and-run threat, meaning intermediate passes could still go for big gains. But it does negate one of Goodwin’s strengths to a point.

Plus, the addition of Washington wide receiver Dante Pettis in Round 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft, whom the 49ers will want to work into the mix, could take away some of Goodwin’s targets.

What to Expect with the 49ers in 2018

It doesn’t appear as if the Niners are closely considering anything but Goodwin being a bit part of the offense this season.

Otherwise, they wouldn’t have signed him to a three-year extension earlier this offseason.

Much of Goodwin’s impact, though, will center on the abilities of Garoppolo and Shanahan’s game planning. If San Francisco’s offense emerges as one of the more prolific units in the league this year, Goodwin could be in for a career year.

Garçon’s return, plus Pettis’ addition, may mean Goodwin’s numbers in 2018 take a hit. After all, he had just two games with 80-plus yards when Garçon was available, compared to four afterwards.

Nevertheless, Goodwin’s role remains important. If he’s able to pull one, perhaps two defenders down the field, that should open up things for the rest of San Francisco’s offense.

Next: Thoughts and analysis on 49ers OTAs so far

That alone makes Goodwin a valuable commodity in 2018.