With the No. 61 overall pick in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers have selected Oregon running back
In 2011, James carried the ball 247 times for 1,805 yards and 18 touchdowns.
In 2010, James won the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back.
“This guy gives them the rare ability to hit a homerun anywhere in the park,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said after the selection.
James spoke with the Bay Area media via conference call following his selection.
Just wanted to know how much attention the 49ers paid to you leading up to the draft?
“I just talked to them when I was at the combine, but other than that it was pretty much nothing else. I get a phone call from Coach Harbaugh and it was just unbelievable.”
What do you make of this unit, this running back unit, with
“I just want to go in there and compete. Those guys are great running backs and I’m sure I can learn a lot of things from those guys. Just pick up some of those things from those guys and try to be the best I can be and help the team win.”
What kind of return ability do you have? Is that something that you foresee doing at the next level as well?
“Yeah, I plan to do everything. Return balls, run down on kickoffs, whatever the team needs me to do that’s what I’m going to do.”
What impressions do you have from Jim Harbaugh, when Harbaugh was still at Stanford?
“We played Coach Harbaugh a couple times. He’s so intense. He seems so about effort; a hardcore coach. Even after we stopped playing him, I was like, ‘I would love to play for a coach like that.’ How intense he is and how physical he wanted his team to be because I always want to be physical and go downhill. I always enjoyed playing against Stanford because I knew they were going to give it their all and be aggressive. Now I’m playing for their coach and it’s unbelievable for me. I’m really excited.”
Is the second round about where you were thinking you might be picked?
“I had no idea where I would get drafted at. I had no idea, second round or third round. It just came up and they picked me. It’s just a dream come true for me to even have my name called. It didn’t really mater too much.”
Where are you right now?
“I’m in Texas.”
What part of Texas?
What kind of skill sets do you believe that you could bring to this team?
“Whatever they need me to do. I feel like I have a variety of skill sets. Returning ability, I can run in between the tackles, I can catch the ball, I can do pretty much everything they ask me to do.”
Are you with family there in Texas?
“I am with family.”
What was their reaction?
“They were very ecstatic about the situation. They’re excited and I’m excited, so I’m just ready to get started.”
Have you made travel plans to come out to Santa Clara, California?
“I think I’m coming tomorrow.”
During this process, how many teams, or which teams are you getting the best feel from that you might go to?
“I really had no idea, zero. And then all of a sudden I get picked. I had no idea where I would go and then I just got a phone call and they were like, ‘We’re going to take you with the next pick.’ I’m stoked about it.”
We know that you talked to Tom Rathman, the running backs coach. What do you know about Tom Rathman? Is that a name that’s familiar to you?
“I have no idea. I’ve never met him in my life.”
You didn’t meet him at the combine?
“I’m unsure. I met so many different people at the combine. I think it was probably the first time I dealt with them like that. Maybe I met him in the interview room, I’m not sure.”
You’d remember him I think.
“I should, but I probably can’t remember too much of anything right now. I just remember getting picked and that’s the only thing that I’m thinking about.”
Are you familiar with the running backs the 49ers have here already with guys like RB Kendall Hunter, RB Frank Gore and RB Brandon Jacobs?
“Yeah, actually I know who Kendall Hunter is. He’s from East Texas too, so I know exactly who he is. But I like Brandon Jacobs. He’s a good running back and so is Frank Gore. I look up to him. I think he’s an awesome running back. I think he’s one of the best running backs in the league. So, if I have to sit behind him and learn, it’s just a good opportunity for me to get better.”
Would you say that you’re similar to Kendall Hunter?
“If that’s what you want to view it as, but I think I can be similar to anybody. I just want to be my own individual. I don’t want to be like anybody else. So, I’m just going to go out there and be the best that I can be, not just try to be like someone else.”
LaMichael, yesterday the 49ers took WR
“Yeah, I do. I’m going to be an all-around athlete and stoked about the opportunity. I love watching the 49ers play and can’t wait to get in that stadium and play.”
Looking back on your time in Oregon, what did you get out of that whole experience? And how well did it go for you?
“I look back at the situation at Oregon it prepped me for a lot of different things. Playing in big ball games and being the best player I can be. It really helped me out as far as life lessons and just making all the right decisions as far as life and football, too. So, I’m really stoked about the situation and the pick and how they picked me. So, I’m just happy about it.”
Who did you visit before the draft?
“I visited Detroit, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.”
Can you talk a little bit more about your return skills? Do you think that’s a way you can make an immediate impact in the NFL?
“Yeah definitely, I can do anything [inaudible] return the ball. I can even run down on kickoffs, block field goals, whatever the team needs me to do, as far as to win ball games, that’s what I’m going to do.”
How are you as far as catching punts?
“I’m great. I was a punt returner last year and I think I can do big things in that department.”
How many field goals have you blocked?
“I haven’t blocked any yet, but I will. Coming soon, I’m going to block some.”