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In Search of Stability, Morgan Comes Home

Posted Mar 15, 2012

Despite seemingly constant change, Josh Morgan developed into a dependable wide receiver in four years in San Francisco. Now the Washington, D.C., native returns to his roots, signing with the Redskins as an unrestricted free agent.


Josh Morgan quickly rattled off the names of head coaches and quarterbacks he has had in the NFL.

Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, Jim Tomsula and Jim Harbaugh at head coach.

Shaun Hill, J.T. O’Sullivan, Alex Smith and Troy Smith at quarterback.

He has even had three different offensive coordinators and three different wide receiver coaches.

Change was constant in San Francisco – Morgan's NFL city – the last four years.

And he was caught up in it.

Joining the 49ers as a 2008 sixth-round draft pick, Morgan developed into a solid wide receiver despite all the change. He started 32 of 49 games the last four years, catching 131 passes for 1,764 yards and nine touchdowns.

Last year, he had 15 catches for 220 yards and one touchdown in five starts before suffering a broken ankle that ended his season.

As an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Morgan made a point to look at teams that offered more stability.

In his hometown of Washington, D.C., Morgan saw a Redskins team with a two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach in Mike Shanahan. And he saw a quarterback position that could be solved by using the No. 2 pick in the draft on an elite prospect.

“You’re always looking for stability,” Morgan said in his first comments after signing with the Redskins on March 14. “They say you should never get comfortable in this business, but if you see the same faces and you build relationships, if you have the same people in the locker room and the same people coaching you, then you can get comfortable.

“And you don’t have to be on your toes all the time. You can flat-out ask, 'Coach, I don’t get what you mean?' And it’s just a conversation. It’s more comfortable, and that helps you relax and focus on just getting better.”

With so many changes in San Francisco, Morgan found himself focusing on the business side of football as opposed to just going out and playing.

“If there’s a new coach and you have to try to impress him, sometimes you’re scared to say something or ask a question because you don’t know how he’s going to react,” he said. “Or you’re scared because you think he wants to bring his guys in.

“When you have stability, when you can build a relationship and build chemistry, all across the board with your coaches and the quarterback, that’s when you win the games.”

It’s appropriate that Morgan has found stability by coming home.

On the day he signed his contract, he said it felt “surreal” to be playing for his hometown team.

“It’s really like a dream come true,” he said.

Morgan grew up just two blocks from RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. He remembers listening to his grandfather talk about Redskins greats Doug Williams, Art Monk, Darrell Green and Brian Mitchell.

Basketball was his passion early on, but he tried football and enjoyed it. He attended H.D. Woodson High School in the city and starred at quarterback, wide receiver and cornerback before moving on to play wide receiver exclusively at Virginia Tech.

Morgan is not the type of player who talks a lot on the field.

Never has been.

“I was a basketball player at first, so when I first started playing football, I would just shut up because I didn’t want to ask dumb questions,” he admitted. “A lot of the guys on the team had played little league, and I was just fresh out there, so I was real quiet.”

Since then, he has always let his play do the talking, whether it was at H.D. Woodson or Virginia Tech or the NFL.

“I’m not one of those rah-rah type of guys,” he said. “I’ve been told I am a great leader, but I never really talk much, I just go out there and let people see how hard I work and let people see how hard I play...If you don’t say much, then your play will speak volumes for you.”

The 6-1, 210-pound Morgan has good size and great speed. Hebrings great leaping ability that he uses to his advantage in tight coverage. And he is willing to do whatever he is asked to help his team win.

“You ask me to go block a 300-pound defensive end, I’m going to knock his head off – and I’m not going to say anything, I’ll just go on back to the huddle,” he said. “If you need me to go deep and clear out [underneath], then you’ll see me go deep full speed clearing it out for Pierre [Garcon] coming across.”

Since Morgan learned the West Coast offense in San Francisco, he expects a quick adjustment to the Redskins’ system, which is also West Coast-based.

“It’s basically the same offense I had in San Francisco,” he said. “The terminology is different, but it’s basically the same concept, the same scheme, the same formations. Every offense has different verbiage that you have to get used to.

“So Washington is definitely a good fit for me.”

In more ways than one, too.