DENVER – Wide receiver Richie James has settled into the 49ers’ offense after a rookie season in which he never got completely comfortable with the offensive playbook.
So the last thing he needs as the 49ers enter their second preseason game Monday night against the Denver Broncos is to be thinking about anything that could take his focus off his job.
James is one of at least eight 49ers wide receivers who figures to be on an NFL roster this season. But not all of them will remain with the 49ers when the regular season begins. James could be attractive to some team – such as the Broncos – who need a wide receiver and return man if does not stick with the 49ers.
“You try to control what you can control -- be the best person in this offense and be the best person in any offense,” James said. “It doesn’t matter. Just be you. You kind of let it go and not let it get to you. If you let it consume you, you’re off your game and you’re not thinking about the right thing.”
James is coming off an up-and-down rookie season in which he showed flashes in every aspect of his game. He caught nine passes for 130 yards, including a 53-yarder. He also had a 97-yard touchdown on a kickoff return.
He said he main objective in his second training camp is to achieve consistency. After already being in Kyle Shanahan’s system for one year, James is gaining more confidence in his role.
“Last year, I was thinking way much more,” James said. “But now you kind of got a glimpse of the whole offense and you can think outside the box a little bit – think of the extra stuff: the coverages, who you’re going against, what you need to do, the techniques and stuff like that.”
James had a good training camp, including two solid days of work against the Broncos in practices. Shanahan said he has been impressed from what he’s seen from James.
“I think he’s done a good job and stepped it up throughout camp,” Shanahan said. “I think he’s done a real good job.”
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James faces stiff competition for a roster spot. Rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, the team’s second- and third-round draft picks, have two spots locked up.
Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor and Jordan Matthews are also in competition for their roles. James showed plenty of big-play potential as a rookie, and now he is looking to show that aspect of his game with more frequency with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.
“They know I can do it,” James said. “People have seen it. The quarterbacks have seen it. They believe I can do it. It’s just about being consistent with it. That’s getting Kyle’s trust and Jimmy’s trust.”