SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- After a sleepless night caused by the devastating death of his baby boy, San Francisco 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin just wanted to play football.
That was the message Goodwin delivered to Niners coach Kyle Shanahan and other members of the Niners staff after Goodwin's son was delivered stillborn in the early hours of Sunday morning.
"I know Marquise was hurting bad, real bad and he will for a while and I know his wife will too," Shanahan said Monday afternoon. "I don't know how sure he was right away. I think he was up alone throughout the night and then he got here. ... By the time I was able to talk to Marquise he was hurting but he was adamant he wanted to play, and that's something as a coach you respect. You don't want someone just to tell that to you because that's what you want to hear as a coach. You want someone to tell it to you because they mean it. And you could tell 'Quise meant it."
And play Goodwin did, corralling an 83-yard touchdown catch from rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard in the second quarter of San Francisco's 31-21 win against the New York Giants.
It was the longest play of the season for the Niners and one Goodwin capped by blowing a kiss to the sky as he crossed the goal line before letting his emotions out and kneeling in prayer in the end zone as his teammates rushed to support him.
Later, Goodwin threw a crushing block to spring tight end Garrett Celek for a 47-yard touchdown, momentarily having the wind knocked out of him before smiling at Shanahan and letting him know he was going to be OK.
"For a guy to go through that, to have those emotions, to go the whole night before not sleeping very much and then to come out there and have some very pivotal plays in that game and make a huge difference, it says a lot about the guy," Shanahan said. "And regardless of whether he played good or bad, the fact that he was out there and tried his hardest and tried to help us was the most important (thing)."
After the game, an emotional Goodwin quickly exited the locker room to return to his family's side. He soon took to Instagram to reveal the news that his son had passed away earlier in the day, writing that the baby had been delivered prematurely and thanking everyone who had prayed for he and his wife during the pregnancy.
Goodwin's wife, Morgan Goodwin-Snow, who was 19 weeks into her pregnancy, told People Magazine on Monday that there had been complications with the pregnancy throughout the week before the child, who was named Marquise Jr., was delivered stillborn at 3:52 a.m. on Sunday.
According to Shanahan, Goodwin first contacted him about his wife's labor troubles on Saturday morning, letting him know he would miss the team's meetings and walk throughs that day to be by his wife's side. Later, Shanahan saw Goodwin at the team hotel after things had seemingly improved.
Later that night, Shanahan got another call that Goodwin was headed back to the hospital with his wife, hours before the baby passed away.
After getting his wife's blessing to play Sunday morning, Goodwin arrived at the 49ers facility to meet with Shanahan, team chaplain Earl Smith and other members of the staff to talk about whether he'd play.
Shanahan said he drew on his experience to acknowledge that every person handles grief different and left the decision about whether to play entirely up to Goodwin.
"I think every individual is different," Shanahan said. "Everyone reacts differently to that stuff so I don't think you can judge or expect anything. I've had some people who a death happens and they can't see anyone and they have to go home right away and you totally understand that and respect it. And then I've been around some people who that happens and they need to play the next day, they think that's what someone would want and that's very important and helps them. So, in my experience with stuff like that is you can't judge someone or really anticipate how anyone is going to act, you just try to support them and help them clearly make the best decision for them and their family."
After meeting with Goodwin and hearing his desire to play, Shanahan installed him in his usual spot in the starting lineup.
"He was struggling with it for obvious reasons and he decided to play, which we were very grateful for," Shanahan said. "And I think he did a hell of a job for his wife yesterday being there for her and helped out his family from that aspect and also helped out his family here, too."
Goodwin-Snow told People that the couple will try again to have children in the future.