Countless football fans including Duck fans have said that LaMichael James is not talented or big enough to play in the NFL, despite the fact that he hasn’t really had a fair shot yet. LaMichael’s break out performance against the Dolphins gave us a great preview for the Duck-legend’s future in the league.
There was another running back from Texas, like James, who was always considered undersized. He had a similar build to LaMichael James who is listed at 5’8″ and 195 pounds. This 5’10″ 215 pound running back put up similar statistics to LaMichael James as well. You guessed it. I’m talking about LaDainian Tomlinson.
The comparisons between these guys are strangely identical. LaMichael James rushed for 1805 yards and 21 touchdowns in his senior season, but obviously could’ve put up even bigger numbers without his injury. Tomlinson rushed for 2158 yards and 22 touchdowns in his senior year at TCU. James’ official 40 time is listed at a 4.45, while Tomlinson’s is listed at a 4.46.
Both running backs broke a large amount of tackles for their size and both had very similar and equally dynamic running styles, with ankle breaking jump-cuts and unique field vision. James and Tomlinson also have always been useful in the passing game as well through screen plays and in short routes. Even though LT was drafted much earlier than James was, many scouts said Tomlinson would never amount to anything in the NFL because of his size, much like he was passed over by many big time college football programs coming out of high school.
We can’t read too much into LaMichael James’ performance against the dolphins. He looked dynamic in the return game with 79 yards, almost breaking a touchdown that was stopped only by a shoestring tackle. He had 30 rushing yards and a catch for 15 yards in limited play. With 124 all purpose yards, James provided the spark the 49ers needed, but it was only one game.
Before we can criticize James’ NFL capabilities, we must give him more time and see what he can do in a larger role.