Jan 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James (23) celebrates his touchdown run against the Atlanta Falcons during the second quarter in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers: Jim Harbaugh Hints We’ll See More LaMichael James

It was last week when Golden Gate Sports’ own David Ochoa said the San Francisco 49ers needed to use running back LaMichael James more. Coach Jim Harbaugh said Tuesday that fans wanting to see more of James might get their wish.

According to SFGate.com, Harbaugh hinted James could get more playing time after the 49ers return from their bye week.

“He’s too good of a player not to be playing,” Harbaugh said, adding that James would likely see time on both the offense and on special teams.

James has been inactive for the last three games and even went to social media to express his frustration over not being used.

The second-round pick from Oregon in 2012 played in four games last year, gaining 125 yards on 27 rushing attempts and catching three passes for 29 yards. On special teams, he returned 14 kickoffs for a 29.8 yard average. In two games this season, James has 31 yards on seven carries and one kickoff return for 29 yards.

There has been talk that James might be a more viable option in the return game than current returner Kyle Williams, who had a very rough day in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars with a fumble on the opening kickoff and another kickoff that he returned too close to the sideline and stepped out of bounds inside the 49ers’ 5-yard line.

Williams is averaging just 19.1 yards on seven returns this year.

On the punt return team, Williams’ cautious nature is causing increasing frustration among fans. Of the 32 punts Williams has fielded this season, he has fair caught a whopping 20 of them. His 12 returns have been for just 61 yards, a horrendous 5.1-yard average.

James is a dynamic athlete who could inject a spark into the 49ers’ return game, a spark that might be enough to key a big second half for the defending NFC champs.

Tags: Jim Harbaugh LaMichael James NFL San Francisco 49ers

  • loverpoint

    Now Ask me if I believe anything coming out of the 49ers headquarters? NO

    Last year right after the 49ers drafted James offensive coordinator Greg Roman could hardly control his joy of having James. As a matter of fact he said that the day after the 49ers drafted James he had already started drawing up plays suited specifically to suit the skills of James. Well we never saw James suit up for a game until Kendall Hunter went down with an Achilles tendon injury.

    The little bit we saw of James at the end of 2012 caused many Prognosticators to speculate that 2013 would be a breakout year for James . BREAKOUT – Heck the poor kid is still locked down in the deep dungeon of inactivity.

    What does Harbaugh mean by we will be seeing much more of James? Does it mean that James will replace soon to be fired Kyle Williams and resume Williams duties of occasionally returning any kick that does not go out of the end zone and/ or leading the league in fair catches like Williams.

    The really big question will be if James has a place on the offense? Sure James can line up occasionally as a RB, but James runs upright thus making him easier to tackle at the line of scrimmage. James would be best utilized as a Flanker like Darren Sproles or Wes Welker. You can run ends around with him or short quick passes to James beyond the line of scrimmage and then let him work his magic running in the open field.

    But the sad truth is that the 49ers have not used plays that were specific for James, they have not played him much at all. I will use the same reasoning for playing him as I did for using Kaepernick over Smith. I said that Kaepernick was like a thoroughbred race horse that wanted to run and that by keeping him on the sidelines for to long you drain the spirit out of the player.

    • Phil Watson

      These are all excellent points. You’d have to think that at some point, they’d realize that there is a really dynamic asset gathering rust on the inactive list, but they’ve had a season and a half to figure that out already.