The decision came to Micah Bryan last summer.
A left-handed pitcher for the Waterloo (Iowa) Bucks of the Northwoods League, Bryan had a lot of time on his hands.
As a pitcher in baseball, youre sitting on the bench a lot between starts, eating (sunflower) seeds, said Bryan. So I thought about it a lot.
Bryans decision? Whether to continue to play baseball for the Charlotte 49ers when the school year began or to switch sports and play for the schools fledgling football program.
Im more wired to be a football player, said Bryan, a junior inside linebacker who practiced with the team last fall and is with the 49ers in their first week of spring practice. When youre pitching, if you try harder, the ball doesnt travel as fast than if youre loose and calm. In football, if you try harder, more times than not, it works out for you.
Bryan came to Charlotte to play baseball in 2010 after an outstanding career at East Wilkes High in football, basketball and baseball. He received football offers from NCAA Football Championship Division schools like Appalachian State and Elon and Division II Catawba.
But he was more highly regarded in baseball and elected to play for the 49ers over East Carolina and N.C. State.
I thought baseball could take me further, said Bryan. But football was always my first love. I guess I had gone with my head over my heart.
When Charlotte announced in 2010 that it would begin football, the lure of his favorite sport tugged at Bryan. After returning from Iowa last summer, he discussed switching sports with Charlotte baseball coach Loren Hibbs.
Thats what he wanted to do, said Hibbs. I was never going to stand in his way.
So, after two seasons as one of the 49ers top pitchers (he was the Atlantic 10 rookie of the week once as a freshman), he made the switch.
At 6-foot-3, 208 pounds, Bryan had already caught the eyes of 49ers assistant football coaches James Adams and Napoleon Sykes, who had watched him work out in the weight room the football team shares with the baseball team.
We saw this big, long guy who looked like hed be an ideal linebacker, said Adams, the teams secondary coach. He was ready-made.
Bryan started practice last fall as a strong safety, but quickly moved to linebacker.
I was by far the biggest safety we had, he said. So they asked me to run around a little bit at linebacker.
• Slot receiver Austin Duke likes to keep his football shoes pristine. He polishes them daily and only wears them on grass and artificial turf so as not to grind down the cleats. Thats a problem for Duke, however, when it comes to walking over a concrete bridge connecting the 49ers two practice fields. With no time to take his shoes off Tuesday, Duke asked for a piggyback ride from a teammate. The request was declined. Duke gingerly walked across the bridge.
• Freshman offensive tackle Jamal Covington is one of the 49ers success stories in the weight room. He arrived at Charlotte last August weighing 263 pounds. He quickly lost 7 pounds of bad weight, as the coaches describe it. But hes up to 282 pounds this spring.
• The 49ers will practice two more times this week (Friday and Saturday). Saturdays practice will begin at noon in the stadium and include a scrimmage.