SANTA CLARA -- Marquise Goodwin’s first season with the 49ers got off to a rough start.
But when he endured something in life far worse than a couple of dropped passes, he said his outlook was forever changed.
Just hours before the 49ers’ Nov. 12 game against the New York Giants, Goodwin and his wife, Morgan, experienced the death of their baby boy due to complications during pregnancy.
Goodwin played that day, and caught an 88-yard touchdown pass from C.J. Beathard in the 49ers’ first victory of the season. Goodwin said his perspective on his profession changed that day.
“When I went through that tragedy, my wife and I, it taught me to just not focus on the negativity,” Goodwin said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “Focus on the things I do have in my life and the things I can control and the things that can help my legacy moving forward.
“When something like that happens, it teaches you to not take the good times, the happy times, for granted.”
Goodwin had key dropped passes in the 49ers’ first two games of the season against Carolina and Seattle. Those plays clearly had an impact on him. He said he received support from Pierre Garçon, Aldrick Robinson and other teammates. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice even reached out to offer encouraging words.
“It’s kind of hard to move past something like that, especially because I didn’t have too many opportunities before that, coming from Buffalo, and there were a lot of high hopes coming into this organization,” Goodwin said.
“When I had my first drop. . . I thought it was the end of the world because this fan base didn’t know me from Adam at this point.”
In his first nine games with the 49ers, Goodwin caught 22 passes for 417 yards and no touchdowns. In his final seven games, beginning that day against the Giants at Levi’s Stadium, he registered 34 receptions for 545 yards and two touchdowns.
Goodwin was open about dealing with the tragedy, even taking part in a conference call with Bay Area reporters during the ensuing bye week. He hoped his story could help others coping with similar experiences. He also received an outpouring of support from the public.
“That will never fade for me, for all the people who showed their love and showed their support, that means so much to me and definitely means so much to my wife, as well,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin was voted as the winner of the Len Eshmont Award for the 49ers player who best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous spirit of Eshmont, an original member of the organization. He also was voted as the NFL-wide winner of the George Halas Award, which is presented to the NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed.
Goodwin has a good role model when it comes to overcoming adversity. His sister, Deja, was born with cerebral palsy and was not expected to live more than seven months. In September, she will turn 27.
“I’ve been humbled by having her around, never walking a day in her life, and me being a dual-sport professional athlete,” said Goodwin, who competed in the 2012 Olympics in the long jump.
“I’m blessed beyond measure. To be able to share these experiences with my sister, somebody’s who’s never walked a day in her life. It means a lot to me because I’m not only representing myself, but I’m representing her in many different lights.”
The 49ers in March signed Goodwin to a three-year, $18.85 million contract extension through the 2021 season. His family spent most of his early years in Section 8 housing in Texas. He used some of the money from his new contract to surprise his mother and sister with a new house near where he lives in Dallas.