SANTA CLARA – LaMichael James spoke to Bay Area reporters Tuesday afternoon. Here’s what he said.
Q: You’re getting a lot of reps this offseason. From last year to this year, how much more comfortable do you feel out there?
JAMES: I’m completely comfortable. Last year I wasn’t even here. I didn’t get to do any of this stuff. But I’ve been in the offense for a year, I picked it up pretty fast to my knowledge and now it’s kind of second nature, it’s pretty easy for me.
Q: You’re getting reps at punt returner, too.
JAMES: Oh yeah, I’m trying to be an all-around athlete. Anything that helps the team win, I’m all for.
Q: Are you more comfortable catches punts than you were last year?
JAMES: 100 percent. It’s kind of like tying shoes now. I have to give a lot of credit to Brady Seely. Without him, I wouldn’t be back there catching punts like I was today. He worked me every single day. I did it every day last year. He stayed after practice and helped me out, and even now he helps me out. That’s the reason I’m pretty good at it right now.
Q: How is your confidence compared to a year ago?
JAMES: Confidence is good. I think it was just a confidence thing, just catching the ball and see it come off the foot of an NFL punter’s foot – it’s a little bit different than college. And the wind is different.
Q: Is it possible to prepare for the wind at Candlestick here at practice?
JAMES: No, you can’t. You just have to see the ball. Judging the ball is key. Even though you have more wind a Candlestick, it’s really just judging the ball, knowing where it’s going to land and studying the nose.
Q: Do you see yourself as the No.1 guy on kickoffs and punts?
JAMES: Definitely. You’ve got to think like that. Any opportunity to get the ball in my hands, I’m all for it. Catching the ball, running the ball, punts, no matter what it is, I’m all for it.
Q: Do you see yourself getting more targets in the receiving game this season?
JAMES: Oh yeah, definitely. I feel I can do anything. I can play any position – maybe not on the O-line, but I feel I can do anything they ask me to do.
Q: Did you add some muscle this offseason?
JAMES: Yeah, I needed to, just to take those hits and blocking and different things like that. I needed to get stronger, and I really worked hard toward that this offseason.
Q: How much do you weigh?
JAMES: I weigh about 205. That’s about the heaviest I’ve been.
Q: How much did you weight last year?
JAMES: About 195.
Q: How did you put on 10 pounds?
JAMES: Weights. Getting in that weight room. I think that was key. A lot of times last year I was in school, so I was just focusing on that. You can’t play football forever, so you’ve got to have that degree and that was my No.1 focus. Now, I’m done with that and I’m here and football is my main focus. I’ll stay in the weight room and keep learning the game.
Q: Can you feel the 10 extra pounds when you’re on the field?
JAMES: I’m way more explosive. I always felt I was long fast. I didn’t know how explosive I was at the point of attack. I really work hard at being more explosive.
I have three questions for you:
1. Will LaMichael James continue to add mass and become an every-down running back for the 49ers, like the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice? Why or why not?
2. How many passes will James catch this season? How many carries will have?
3. Will James win the punt returner job, or will Kyle Williams?