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Kyle Shanahan identifies turning point in Marquise Goodwin’s 2017 season

© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most harrowing days of Marquise Goodwin’s life also featured the game that jumpstarted both his and the 49ers’ 2017 season.

Hours before last year’s Week 10 matchup with the New York Giants, Goodwin’s infant son died due to complications during birth. Later that day, Goodwin caught an 83-yard touchdown, one of the most memorable plays of the 49ers’ 2017 campaign.

It was Goodwin’s only catch of the day, but in many ways, it symbolized the start of a turnaround. The 49ers took the lead that day and later won their first game of the season, a 31-21 victory over the Giants to break an 0-9 start. Two games later, Jimmy Garoppolo was handed the keys to the offense, and the 49ers rode a five-game winning streak into the offseason.

Kyle Shanahan thinks back to Goodwin’s 83-yard touchdown as the start of his metamorphosis.

“Ever since that game, I felt like he has gotten better and better,” Shanahan said on KNBR Thursday afternoon. “His confidence has gone up and he finished the year playing very well, and I think it gave him the confidence that he always believed he could do it, but he hadn’t done it. He ended the year to where he actually was doing it, and he was doing it consistently.”

Goodwin’s 2017 season, his first with the 49ers, was punctuated with highs and lows. He had 10 games of three catches or fewer, most of which came during the first half of the season.

He became San Francisco’s de facto No. 1 receiver after Pierre Garcon suffered a season-ending neck injury in Week 9. As Garoppolo swooped in and saved the season, Goodwin took off alongside him. He strung together six performances of 68 receiving yards or more from Week 9 to 15. From Week 13 to 15, he logged consecutive performances of at least six catches and 99 yards. Twenty-nine of his 56 catches on the season came in the five games Garoppolo started to end the year.

Goodwin finished the season with 962 yards, the 19th-most in the league. He had never had more than 431 yards in a season throughout his four previous seasons with Buffalo.

“Last year, it was Quise’s first time being put in a number of positions,” Goodwin said. “A lot of pressure goes with that, and you have to learn through sometimes failing. He was up and down throughout the year.”

Back in March, Goodwin signed a three-year extension back that will keep him with the 49ers through the 2021 season.

And despite Garcon’s return, Goodwin has clearly shown he remains Garoppolo’s go-to option throughout the past three-plus weeks of training camp. He has been dominant from the start, using his Olympic speed for long touchdowns, refining his route-running, and consistently making contested catches over the middle of the field.

He has a better understanding of how his his all-worldly speed can be used more strategically than simply straight lines. The threat his speed poses sets up a nasty comeback move.

Goodwin’s trajectory has ascended ever since that 83-yard touchdown. If the 49ers’ offense takes that next step in 2018, he will be a driving force.

“I think (that game is) what ‘Quise needed to give him the confidence to where he took his work to another level,” Shanahan said. “He came in and is running every route very well. He is catching the ball consistently. I think he doesn’t just believe he can do it anymore— he has done it.”

Listen to Shanahan’s full appearance with Tolbert & Lund below.


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