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Martin caps first day of NFL free agency with trade to 49ers

Jonathan Martin: Alleged bullying victim traded from Dolphins to powerhouse 49ers.
Jonathan Martin: Alleged bullying victim traded from Dolphins to powerhouse 49ers.Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

When NFL free agency began at 4 p.m. est on March 11, the deals came fast and furious. A few prolific free agents didn't take too long to find new teams, while other big names got let go before finding a new home. But Jonathan Martin made the biggest splash on the first day of NFL free agency, as the Miami Dolphins let him go in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers -- and Martin's old coach at Stanford.

Martin to now play for college coach Harbaugh, 49ers
Martin to now play for college coach Harbaugh, 49ersGetty Images

Before he became the alleged victim in the Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal, Martin played at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh -- before he became coach of the 49ers. It makes it more obvious that the Dolphins reunited them as a kind of parting gift to their embattled former offensive tackle.

Not only is Martin leaving the Dolphins, after the questionable way they handled his mistreatment, he gets to join one of the NFL's elite. What's more, the 49ers only paid the Dolphins a conditional late draft pick for next year in this trade.

Nevertheless, if Miami's internal problems are the biggest in the NFL, San Francisco's issues were starting to move up the list. Although Martin is set to play under Harbaugh again, there were big questions weeks ago on how well Harbaugh was getting along with management -- and whether it would rather trade him to the Cleveland Browns than give him a big extension.

The 49ers' locker room doesn't appear to be in the bad shape of the last one Martin was in. But with Harbaugh's tough as nails reputation and attitude, the potential minefield he is in with management and San Franciso's three straight narrow championship failures, Martin isn't exactly walking into a warm and fuzzy culture.

Regardless, Martin has his chance to start over -- a chance many others took in the first hours of NFL free agency. Two of the bigger names will shore up the Denver Broncos' defense, while two perennial Pro Bowlers have to start over, a few defensive stars have a new home and the 49ers themselves have a new backup for Colin Kaepernick.

The accompanying slideshow lists the biggest names who found a new team, or just lost their new one, in their first hours of being free agents.