SANTA CLARA -- LaMichael James is striving to be an elite return man in the NFL, but he has no interest in being a return specialist.
“I want to return kicks,” James said Tuesday after a voluntary 49ers offseason practice. “I do feel like I can be one of the best in the league at it. I need to embrace that role right now. I really want to be the best at it.”
James did not field any punts as a rookie in 2012. Last season, he took over in the middle of the season after Kyle Williams lost his handle on the return chores and was released.
James tied for 10th in the NFL with a 10.9-yard average on 23 returns last season. This offseason, he looks more comfortable handling punts -- even in the stiff wind on the team's practice field.