****update**** Pro Football Talk is reporting that WR Bryant Johnson has agreed to a three-year deal with the Lions. That means that Johnson will be running routes for Scott Linehan after all.
Wearing a Titans-blue sweater and a New York Yankees cap, a smiling Brandon Jones dropped by the media trailer after signing a five-year, $16.5 million contract. Jones said he hasn't been told his exact role, but was assured by coach Mike Singletary that he has a chance to compete. Jones said he was willing to do a little of everything, but the 49ers likely will ask him to go deep quite often. Asked if he still has the 4.38 speed he had before the 2005 combine, Jones -- who tore an ACL later that year -- said no, he's gotten faster.
"I came back better than ever," said Jones, who weighed in at 208 pounds at last night's physical. "I've never felt better. They say you can come back from an ACL either slower or faster. I came back faster. I came back in a short period of time and was ready to play the next year."
The light blue sweater likely was from force of habit. The Yankees hat? Jones was drafted by the Yankees out of high school as a center fielder and he actually played college baseball for two years before committing to football. I admit I'm a bit obsessed with this idea, but I have a theory that former baseball players -- especially outfielders -- make excellent DBs and WRs because they are used to tracking moving ojects, moreover small moving objects, while on the run.
Is it strange to be on an entirely new team so quickly?
BJ: Man, it is. The process is strange how you're in one day and out the next. It's how it is. I love it. I'm blessed, fortunate to me here. I'm ready to start playing, to be a 49er. I'm going to go home (to Texarcana, TX) to deal with my family and soak all of this process in. It's been tough to swallow, but it's unvelievable. And I'm excited.
What do you think you bring to this team?
BJ: I bring a deep threat. I bring a possession guy, a guy who can get out there on the perimeter and block. We have a great running game here, and it always helps. I bring physicalness. I want to go out there and work as hard as I can and give it all I got.
What was it like meeting with Mike Singletary?
BJ: At first I thought he was a real tough-nosed guy. And you can tell he is. But after talking to him, you know that he wants it. His will to win -- you know, the fire in his eyes that makes you want to play for a guy like that. I've always heard that players love to play for him and they play hard for him. Just meeting him at breakfast. It just let's you know, you get a feel for it, to want to play for a guy because he wants to win, he wants to get this thing going in the right direction. And so does the GM, so it's going to be great coming out here playing for a coach like that, and I can't wait to start.
Did they talk about your role in the offense?
BJ: No, not exactly. He basically told me I'm going to have a chance to compete. And that's all I'm here for. I mean, that's all I want -- an opportunity to go out and compete. That's what this game is about. There are a lot of talented players on the roster at receiver, but I just want to have a chance to compete, go out there, be in practice. Nothing's going to be given to you. He told me that. Nothing's going to be given to you and I wouldn't appreciate it if it was, and my mom certainly wouldn't appreciate it if it was given to me. So, I'm certainly prepared.
Why do you think your best days are ahead of you as an NFL player?
BJ: I'm young. I haven't reached my full potential. I've been in an offense that doesn't throw the ball as much. I've made the best of my opportunities when we did throw the ball. So I'm ready just to elevate and step up my game and be showcased, get the ball more, get more opportunities. That's what I've been looking forward to. I know my best days are ahead of me.
Are you back to where you were (pre ACL) physically?
BJ: Oh, definitely. I feel more than 100 precent. My body feels great. I went through last year not having any (injury problems). That's what this league is about. If you stay healthy, you can do things out there on the field. I'm not worried as far as my play-making abilities. I'm going to go out there and make plays. It's all about being blessed and being fortunate to stay healthy and getting your body right to stay on the field because that's how you get better.
How were you used last year in Tennessee?
BJ: I was used more in the third wide-receiver role -- second and three. And third down a lot. Because at Tennessee, you run the ball a lot. Run, run, run. And then we passed. So when it was time to make those plays, when you're down and you need throw the ball, that's when you get used. That's all you can do, do your job in the offense. You know, you would love to call the plays and get a pass play every down. But that's not how it works.
Singletary has said he wants to run the ball. How does that fit with what you want to do?
BJ: It fits in great. That's how you win ball games. And if you don't have a run game, if you don't have a power running game, there's not too many ball games you're going to win. You can't be one dimensional. And I'm going to fit in because, I mean, in Tennessee, that's what I've been a part of. Even in college, being part of a great running game because you have to get out there on the perimeter to block. Once you're out there blocking and you have those guys like Frank Gore that can run down the field. I mean, he can run as far as his blocks can take him, so I'm going to be that extra guy that blocks. ... I'm going to be part of the run game, not just part of the pass game. I'm going to be all around.
Re: Yankees cap. Did they draft you at one point?
BJ: Yes sir. They drafted me out of high school, and I decided to go to college. So I went to college, and I played baseball at college also. When I was taking trips, I had to decide between a football coach and a baseball coach, so it had to be a match of both. Played college baseball for 2 1/2 years, and then I made a decision to play football and am at a good point in my life.
What position were you in baseball?
BJ: Center field. ... And I could hit a curve ball, too. (Editor's note: take that, Melky Cabrera!)
-- Matt Barrows