We all know what LaMichael James is capable of. Not only was he the most prolific running back in Oregon history, but last season, despite receiving no playing time until Kendall Hunter tore his ACL, he played a pivotal role in propelling the Niners to the Super Bowl.
His lack of opportunities last season wasn’t anyone’s fault, he just got drafted by an absolutely loaded team, especially at the running back position. James fell behind potential future Hall of Fame inductee Frank Gore, the more experienced but still young and talented Kendall Hunter and a former starting running back for a Super Bowl champion team, Brandon Jacobs.
Still, the Niners coaching staff seems to be racking their brains trying to find ways to utilize James. Despite struggling to master the art of the return game, James is reportedly vastly improved in that respect.
“I struggled with it,” James said. “But I never held my head low and said I’m going to quit doing it. It was something I said I was going to get out there and get better and do each day.”
“We look at him as a trusted agent back there to field punts and kickoffs,” coach Jim Harbaugh said after Sunday’s practice.
James is also likely to receive some playing time at running back. The 49ers initial depth chart has him slated as the number two running back. However, once Hunter is fully recovered from his torn ACL, James might relinquish his backup status.
But until then, let the man play!