SANTA CLARA – A year ago at this time, Marquise Goodwin was the best in the world in the long jump.
The athleticism was obvious – the speed down the runway, the explosion from the takeoff board – as he propelled himself 8.45 meters (27 feet, 7¾ inches) through the air at the Guadeloupe International Meet.
But what people might not have noticed from Goodwin is the same discipline he believes will allow him to thrive this season as a 49ers wide receiver in Kyle Shanahan’s system.
Shanahan demands execution of the smallest details, and Goodwin has been an eager student during the team's offseason program.
“I love that,” Goodwin said. “You can’t see my arms, but I got goose bumps right now. Really keying in on those details every day, that’s the difference-maker.
“The proof is in the pudding. They had one of the most prolific offenses last year in Atlanta because they paid attention to detail. You put on the tape, you can see that all the guys are honed in on detail and it becomes second nature.”
In 2012, Goodwin won the U.S. Olympic Trials and NCAA outdoor long-jump competition, becoming the first collegian since 1960 to accomplish that feat. He finished 10th at the London Olympics.
He returned to track and field to make a bid for his second trip to the Olympics last year. He posted the best jumps in the world during the football offseason. But his Olympic quest ended at the U.S. Trials with a seventh-place finish while battling a sore hamstring.
“Beside not making the team and suffering a little bit of a nagging injury, I still feel like I accomplished a lot,” Goodwin said. “I’ve very rarely been beat in that event, especially in the U.S. It was humbling for me. It made me respect the level of competition and the amount of work those guys put in.”
Goodwin is noncommittal about whether he will try to return to the Olympics in 2020. He will be 30 years old, which he said places him in his athletic prime for the long jump.
Goodwin attended the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, as a fan over the weekend. He was there to support his friends, Christian Taylor and Will Claye, who finished first and second in the triple jump – the same order they finished at last summer’s Olympics.
“I love track, just like I love football,” Goodwin said. “Really, being out there gave me the moment that I needed. It was my quick fix, being able to go out there and see them compete.
“I still have a lot left in the tank. I always wonder what I could do if I put some more time into it, but football is my priority."
While his track and field career is on at least temporary hold, Goodwin said many of the principles that apply in the long jump are relevant as he learns the nuances of Shanahan’s system.
“Everything has to be to a T,” Goodwin said of his preparation for the long jump. “I have one mark. I’m expected to hit the board, whether the wind is behind my back or the wind is in front of me. I have to hit that same mark at the same time in the same amount of steps.
“Imagine how detailed you have to be to do that, how focused in on the little things. That’s why when it comes to football and a coach like this, that’s right up my alley, because I practice that even when I’m outside of football.”
Goodwin, 26, spent his first four seasons with the Buffalo Bills after being a third-round draft pick in 2013. Last year, he played in 15 games and recorded career-highs with 29 catches for 431 yards and three touchdowns.
Shanahan and general manager John Lynch targeted Goodwin, signing him to a two-year, $6 million contract on the first day of free agency.
When asked what Shanahan saw in him, Goodwin answered, “I’m always open and I’m fast. And I say that in the most humble tone --not to be arrogant. I’m just confident I’ll be open. And I’m fast.”
Goodwin holds the fourth-fastest 40-yard dash time in NFL Scouting Combine history at 4.27 seconds. But he said Shanahan’s offense will allow him to prove he has a lot more to offer than just straight-line speed.
“I know a lot better things are in store,” Goodwin said. “I’m running a lot of different routes that I never had the opportunity to run before. I’m just excited. I’m excited I can assume a different role.
“People assumed I couldn’t run routes. So when they actually see me run routes, they’re like, ‘Wow, this dude’s fast and he can stop fast and he can run routes, and he can catch.’ It sickens me that people would think I’m just this fast dude who can’t run routes or can’t catch.”
Goodwin said he always lined up outside the numbers during his four seasons with the Bills, and his routes were limited to mostly go-routes and comeback patterns. Now, he is lining up in different spots, including the slot. Goodwin applies the same details to his route running that he did for his approach in the long jump. He said he will be so precise that he will consistently take the same number of strides every time he runs a particular route.
“It doesn’t say it (the number of steps) on a piece of paper, but in my mind, when we install plays, I run it in my head,” Goodwin said. “I’ll close my eyes and envision myself running that route, which correlates to track. I do the same thing. That’s how I was able to come out of nowhere and jump, because I practiced it over and over in my mind.”
Listed at 5 foot 9, 179 pounds, Goodwin missed 25 games in his first five NFL seasons with a variety of ailments, including two concussions, hand, calf and hamstring injuries. He played in just two games in 2015 due to ribs injuries.
“The hardest thing about football is just staying healthy,” Goodwin said. “When you’re out there, you’re put in a position to make plays, especially in this offense with Kyle Shanahan.
“Kyle is very smart. He knows how to put people into positions where they can avoid injuries, avoid concussions,” he said. “You know what role you’re going to be in the offense. Mine just happens to be a big role. And I can’t wait for it. Definitely had the conversation to know where I’m going to be exactly what I need to do.”