The pistol offense is a funny thing. Once you think you have a read on it defensively, the formation pulls out trick after trick. Now having one of the most athletic quarterbacks in all of football, the 49ers successfully implemented the pistol offense and rode it all the way to the Super Bowl.
Here is where LaMichael fits in. Being as shifty and agile of a back as there is in the NFL, James fits the pistol offense perfectly. Frank Gore is obviously the featured back, but he is only getting older and LaMichael got invaluable experience towards the end of the season and playoffs and was generally effective. Look for LaMichael to become more involved in their offense this coming year as his experience and game-breaking ability will force coach Jim Harbaugh into giving the upcoming second year pro a larger role. Not only is James effective as a runner, but he can be even more dangerous as a slot receiver or a third down back catching passes out of the backfield — not to mention being a very effective kick returner.
Add all these attributes up and you have the makings of a special player. Will he ever be an every down back? Maybe, but I’m inclined to think that he is destined to be the next Darren Sproles – a guy who catches passes out of the backfield, breaks your ankles with a simple stop cut, and returns kicks and punts. LaMichael James is a jack-of-all-trades and come this season, will be an integral part of the Niners offense.