Marquise Goodwin and the dream of more speed for the Chiefs

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Marquise Goodwin #11 of the San Francisco 49ers runs with the ball against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on November 1, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Marquise Goodwin #11 of the San Francisco 49ers runs with the ball against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on November 1, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /

One report says the San Francisco 49ers might set Marquise Goodwin free on the market. Would the Chiefs dare add a world class sprinter to the mix?

Marquise Goodwin is fast.

When he participated in the NFL Combine, he was clocked in the 40-yard dash in 4.27 seconds—good for the third fastest time on record. He’s an Olympic athlete who competed in the long jump in 2012 in Barcelona and barely missed qualifying for the World Championships in the same event three years later after taking an absence for the NFL. He would earn a silver medal in the Pan-Am games later that year in 2015.

Goodwin has also competed as a champion sprinter, showing strong in several track and field events beyond just the long jump. Most recently, he competed in the inaugural 40 Yards of Gold and won $1 million with the fastest 40-yard dash time in a special, sponsored event pitting several NFL players in a bracket-style tournament.

When on the football field, even in pads, it’s clear that Goodwin is largely a step or several beyond anyone else when allowed to run. It’s the reason why the Buffalo Bills made him a third round pick back in 2013 and it’s why the San Francisco 49ers have continued to employ him over the last few years. As they say, you can’t teach speed.

Unfortunately for Goodwin, his time with the Niners might be up. Matt Barrows of The Athletic recently noted the competition at wide receiver is getting a bit crowded and Goodwin might be the odd man out. When looking at the options, he writes:

"“…let’s say that the first four spots go to Dante Pettis, Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd and Trent Taylor. That would leave two spots for Marquise Goodwin, Jordan Matthews, Kendrick Bourne and Richie James.”"

Barrows goes on to describe the competition, which you should read for a full perspective of the Niners roster, but for our purposes, it’s interesting that Goodwin is so clearly on the bubble.

Goodwin hasn’t been able to translate his speed to the game of football with any real consistency as a wide receiver. It’s not enough to be fast, which is why the work done on Tyreek Hill‘s part to make the leap from someone with gifted speed to elite wide receiver is so impressive.

Goodwin has put up solid numbers in years past, including just two years ago. In ’17, Goodwin started all 16 games for the Niners and caught 56 passes for 962 yards and 2 touchdowns. The frustrating part was a catch rate of just over 53%, a horribly inefficient number that points to something wrong. Just last year, Goodwin had nearly the exact same rate as he caught only 23 passes for 395 yards.

Let’s also be clear, however, about the state of the Niners in that time. Both with the Bills and with the 49ers, the quarterback play has been abysmal. Here are the starting quarterbacks that Goodwin has had to work with in his career:

With Garoppolo and Taylor on the list, it’s not the worst showcase of NFL quarterbacks ever. That said, that’s a frustrating rotation to have under center.

Has Goodwin not put it all together just yet? Has he even had a chance? Has the offensive systems and/or quarterback play around him stifled his natural abilities? What would be possible if a player like, say, Patrick Mahomes were throwing him the ball?

The latter is an important question, because the Chiefs would be wise to least consider the implications of adding even more top-end speed. Tyreek Hill is already known as the fastest man in the NFL. Mecole Hardman was one of the fastest incoming rookies in this year’s draft. That doesn’t account for Sammy Watkins‘ skills with the ball in his hands or Travis Kelce as the best tight end in the gam or Demarcus Robinson‘s athleticism and penchant for getting open when needed.

Imagine coming to the line of scrimmage and seeing Hill, Hardman and Goodwin all there potentially ready to stretch the field in front of them. What could a secondary possibly do? What linebacker underneath is going to stop Kelce coming across the middle? Given that Mahomes can fling it with ease, how do you decide who to cover deep?

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The Chiefs might already have plenty of speed and maybe the maxim “too much of a good thing” applies here. But it’s fun to dream of an offense so insane that Goodwin would be just one of several burners on offense.