SANTA CLARA — Sitting inside of an open Jeep, 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin came within feet of a silverback gorilla while on safari during his trip to Africa over the offseason.
“It was crazy, man. One of the best experiences of my life,” Goodwin said after veterans minicamp practice on Tuesday. “I got to do some things that I never thought I’d be able to do and see some things I never thought I’d be able to see.”
As a self proclaimed world traveler, Goodwin doesn’t want his global journey to come to an end, and this summer, he’ll be preparing to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as a long jumper. But coming off of a 2018 season marred with injuries, Goodwin will have to find the balance between re-establishing himself on the football field and making the cut to represent the United States next year.
For the better part of the last decade, Goodwin has served as a dual-sport athlete, running track and playing football throughout his high school and collegiate career in Texas.
“It’s all offseason. [I’ll do it] the same way I did it in high school, college and the NFL,” Goodwin said in regards to preparing for the Olympics. “It’s all on my off time. I use it as part of my training.”
In 2008, Goodwin became the World Junior Champion for the long jump after setting a personal record, at the time, of 7.74 meters (25-4.75). He followed that title up with back-to-back U.S. Junior Championships.
After winning a U.S. Outdoor championship in 2011 as a junior at Texas, Goodwin qualified for the 2012 Olympics, finishing in 10th. In 2015, he attempted to make his second consecutive Olympic team, but was hung up by a strained hamstring in a trial meet, resulting in a seventh-place finish. The compromised hamstring would ultimately force Goodwin to “retire” from the sport all together.
That hamstring tweak wound also wind up being the first in a long line of injuries that have hampered Goodwin’s NFL career since 2015, a list that includes five concussions and a set of fractured ribs.
Just in 2018, however, Goodwin suffered a leg contusion, another hamstring injury and a calf strain that forced him to miss a combined total of three weeks with the 49ers.
This offseason, though, with his goal of returning as a track and field athlete front and center, Goodwin says that he’s determined to stay healthy and be completely available for training camp while also getting ready for Tokyo.
“Making it through all of these days can be tough. You’ve got to find a way,” he said. “Get in the training room, hydrate, get your body right, do treatments outside of what’s provided here with the organization if you want to take it to the next level… You’ve got to find ways to make sure that your body is ready to go.”
As a direct result of his time away from the field due to injury — along with tending to his family, following wife Morgan Snow’s second miscarriage in as many years — Goodwin’s production saw a steep drop off.
After posting 962 yards on 53 catches in his first truly healthy season in 2017, Goodwin recorded only 395 yards on just 23 catches last season.
“At the end of the day, all I can focus on is doing what I need to do, as a player, to help the team win,” Goodwin said. “That’s what I’m going to do.”
In Goodwin’s mind, preparing for the Olympics as well as the upcoming NFL season are what he needs to do as the two parallel in terms of training and physical requirements.
“What I do in long jump and track and field, it definitely correlates with what I do as a receiver,” he said. “With being fast and being explosive and putting my foot down. It’s the same mechanics that I use in football and track.”
According to Goodwin, the only change that will be required for him to realistically compete at the Olympic level will be a shift in his diet to remove excess sugars in order to get leaner. Besides that, though, he expects the transition to be seamless.
Once veteran mini camp is over, and in the month before full training camp begins, Goodwin says he expects to enter at least one meet, perhaps one held by USA Track and Field, in order to begin his bid to qualify for the official Olympic Trials next year. After that, who knows? It could be another crazy experience. His personal best of 8.33 meters would have earned him a bronze in Rio in 2016.
“I really don’t focus on the competition at all,” Goodwin said. “Like even on the football field it’s me versus me. Once you get inside of your own head and do things outside of yourself, then you blew it.”