The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their second set of OTAs on Thursday, and we got a chance to hear from the two leading candidates for the punt return job. LaMichael James and Kyle Williams both had some comments about the position. These videos come courtesy of Bay Area Sports Guy, who was at practice this week.
James went into a bit more detail about the punt return job, noting the differences in handling punts at the Santa Clara practice facility and at Candlestick Park:
Kyle Williams added in a few comments of his own about competing for the punt return job:
James and Williams would seem to be the heavy favorites for the role, and I would imagine right now James probably has the edge. Williams performed well in limited work last year (4 returns for 52 yards), but he is still working his way back from his ACL tear. He should be fine in time for training camp, but in the meantime, LaMichael James gets extensive practice.
In the video above, James talked about spending a lot of time over the last year with Brad Seely learning some of the nuances of returning punts in the NFL. Given his ridiculous athleticism, if he can learn to handle the punts, it seems like a no-brainer. He already is the leader in the clubhouse to handle kick returns, so why not go for efficiency at the position?
Although these two would appear to be the leading candidates, the 49ers likely are giving other players some opportunities. Ricardo Lockette is the darkhorse candidate given his straight-line speed. If he can show even a modicum of ability at wide receiver, it might be enough to secure himself a roster spot.
The 49ers have a host of other candidates that will likely get some looks, however brief. Seventh-round pick, B.J. Daniels, played quarterback in college but is already aware he will likely have to show his stuff on special teams to make the team. A.J. Jenkins is another guy who could get some opportunities, and I suppose Perrish Cox might as well.
Does one of the obvious picks get the job, or does a guy like Ricardo Lockette surprise folks?