Marcus Maxwell appeared to be doing a fade route right off the 49ers’ roster. The receiver mostly had idled on the practice squad since being drafted in the seventh round in 2005. Meanwhile, the 49ers were loading up with receivers, adding Darrell Jackson and Ashley Lelie through free agency and also drafting Jason Hill in the third round this offseason. As a result, Maxwell was sent to the Hamburg Sea Devils of the now-defunct NFL Europa.
He returned to the United States last week and plans to relax for 10 days and then get back to workouts in preparation for the July 29 opening of training camp – all this despite months of heavy hitting in Hamburg. “My body feels pretty good considering (it) has had 14 weeks of contact,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle from his condominium near the 49ers’ Santa Clara facility. “I’m tired, but when you’re coming off a good season like I’ve had you want to keep learning and keep doing what you’re been doing. I feel like my body’s still in football mode.”
While at the team’s practice facility, Maxwell will run routes and perfect his timing on the team’s practice fields. It’s something he did after his rookie season, which he spent on the practice squad. “When I was put on the practice squad, that was a shocker for me,” Maxwell said. “I felt like I had the talent to make plays.” Stung by the rejection, Maxwell returned to the 49ers’ facility eight days after the 2005 season and worked out every day, often on his own, until training camp.
He did get some help from Blake Tusslie, his former position coach at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill. A sports psychology consultant who’s finishing his master’s degree at John F. Kennedy University, Tusslie set up a virtual practice game for Maxwell. “It’s a lot of visualization,” said Tusslie, who now works at De La Salle High in Concord. Tusslie made Maxwell visualize a huddle, then told him the play, the snap count and the defense Maxwell would face before throwing to him. “His main philosophy is everything you do has to have purpose,” Maxwell said.
Like most athletes, Maxwell admitted that he was fighting himself. Tusslie got him to relax through establishing routines that made him feel comfortable. A push from the 49ers’ coaching staff before he left for Germany also helped. “Before I went they said, ‘Marcus, you are the go-to guy.’ When they told me that, it made me feel like I was important again,” he said. He could be important in training camp, particularly if Lelie continues to struggle with a thigh injury that caused him to miss most of the OTA’s.