SANTA CLARA -- For a guy still recovering from mononucleosis, Jonathan Martin was in a chipper mood Wednesday.
The new 49ers offensive lineman was happy to take another step toward putting his miserable Miami Dolphins experience in the rearview mirror during organized team activities.
Martin smiled throughout his first face-to-face meeting with the Bay Area media and said he never considered giving up the game, even in the wake of last year's mess.
"No, no, that never crossed my mind," the former Stanford lineman said.
After spending last year embroiled in a controversy with Dolphins teammate Richie Incognito, he's back to football ... almost. Martin watched from the sideline during drills Wednesday but is expected to return from illness soon.
"I love playing football," he said. "I've always been a football player. I couldn't ask for a better career. It was a childhood dream to make it to the NFL."
Martin, 24, was the target of a much-documented bullying case in Miami last season. The dispute led to a three-month suspension for Incognito and to a nationwide debate over locker-room culture.
Incognito tried reaching out to Martin via Twitter in February, writing that he supported the lineman "100 percent in his return to football." Martin never publicly replied at the time and, asked about that tweet Wednesday, said he's trying to move forward and put that chapter of his life behind him.
In contrast, Martin was lavish in praising the way the 49ers have welcomed him. He used the word "great" 10 times over the course of a 3-minute, 49-second chat.
"It's been great. My teammates are great. The coach is great. So I'm excited to get back at it," Martin said in a typical response.
A second-round pick by Miami in 2012, Martin last played Oct. 27 before the bullying allegations erupted in a case that raised questions over whether the line is drawn between hazing and abuse.
Martin left the team citing "emotional" reasons in October, and within weeks ESPN reported that Martin planned to sit out the remainder of the season.
The lineman got his desire for a fresh start March 11, when the 49ers acquired him for a conditional draft pick and reunited him with Jim Harbaugh, who also was his coach at Stanford.
Now, Martin will be competing for a roster spot as a backup. He has focused mostly on playing tackle this spring but said, "I'm open to any position they put me."
Martin, listed at 6-foot-5, 312 pounds, said it's been great getting to know his fellow linemates such as Joe Staley and Anthony Davis. He said the 49ers unit ranks among the best in the NFL.
"It's a great group of guys. Good teammates," Martin said. "So it's definitely a blessing to be part of a group like that."
Wednesday's tailback duties were led by Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Jewel Hampton and Marcus Lattimore, who's overcome a recent hamstring strain and shown no issue with his surgically repaired right knee.
Staff writer Cam Inman contributed to this report.