LaMichael James said his shaky performance returning punts Sunday had nothing to do with the Candlestick Park wind or the St. Louis Rams. Instead, he was battling food poisoning, something he is just now getting over.
“I was throwing up all night before the game,” James said Tuesday. “I felt really fatigued. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game like that.”
James took over punt-return duties from Kyle Williams on Nov. 10 and immediately brought a more aggressive attitude to the job. Williams’ 20 fair catches led the NFL when he was replaced. Before Sunday’s game, James had two fair catches.
Against the Rams, however, he only returned two punts for 5 yards and fair-caught the other three. James said as the game went on, he knew he was better off safely handling the ball than risking a return.
“I don’t like to fair catch,” he said. “I really don’t. I want to change the game.”
He muffed one punt-return chance in the first quarter but recovered the loose ball. James also muffed a return last week against the Redskins and was able to retrieve that one as well. Like Williams, he has not turned over the ball this season.
James, the 49ers’ second-round pick in 2012, also did not get into the game on offense, the first time this season he’s been in uniform but has not gotten a chance to line up in the backfield.
“I was feeling it pregame,” he said of his flu symptoms. “Just wrong. I felt that my legs were heavy; my feet were tired.”
James, who said he received a bag of intravenous fluid before Sunday’s game, was feeling better Tuesday but still hadn’t eaten any solid food.
“I’m a little scared, too,” he said.
“I feel good,” Crabtree said while passing through the locker room. “I’m good.”