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LaMichael James Learns on the Job

Posted by Alex Espinoza on October 23, 2012 – 2:45 PM

There are no redshirts in the NFL, but LaMichael James has undertaken an understudy role in his first year with the 49ers. On a San Francisco team with a stable of talented tailbacks, James is working hard as he waits for his opportunity behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Dixon.

The former University of Oregon standout has been inactive for the first seven games of his NFL career, but has learned immensely from the teammates and mentors ahead of him on the depth chart, especially Gore.

“He comes out to practice and he works hard each and every day,” James said. “When you’re watching him, it’s just like, ‘Wow.’ He practices hard, always finishes runs. He’s a complete pro. I just want to idolize myself after him and try to pick up some of the cues so hopefully one day I can be a great running back in this league, too.”

When James arrived on Oregon’s campus as a true freshman in 2008, he faced a similar situation as a redshirt. He worked hard behind the scenes as he waited for his break behind current Tampa Bay running back LeGarrette Blount and Jeremiah Johnson, currently a practice squad member of the Denver Broncos.

James finally stepped between the lines in the fall of 2009 and never looked back, establishing himself as one of college football’s most electrifying players en route to scoring 58 touchdowns in three seasons. Looking at his current situation for the 49ers, James sees many parallels to the beginning of his college career.

“It’s the exact same,” James said. “Went to Oregon and it was just kind of how I am now –  scout team, running plays each and every day and not really expecting to play. Then when you get your opportunity, you have to go out there and prove that you’re worth it and that you can help the team win.”

The 49ers faithful might not see it on Sundays, but James is developing his game on a daily basis on the practice fields behind team headquarters in Santa Clara. Not only does James pose as a scout team running back, but he occasionally lines up at receiver to give the 49ers defense a speedy look.

He’s also getting plenty of hands-on work with special teams coordinator Brad Seely on his kick and punt return duties, another area where he excelled during his college career. In fact, several players have credited James throughout the year for helping them prepare as part of San Francisco’s scout teams.

As he bides his time behind the 49ers starters, James is keeping a great attitude.

“I’m competitive,” James said. “So I want to be out there playing with the guys and help the team win, but I’m not really frustrated.”

It’s not like San Francisco is hurting in the run game, as the 49ers average an NFL-best 5.9 yards per carry and rank No. 2 with a 176.6 yards per game. In the meantime, James will continue to glean from his teammates and coaches until his number is called.

“I think I can play with anybody out there. I really do believe that,” James said. “But at the same time, I do need to learn. That’s big. Learning an NFL game, that’s a huge step for me just to get that down pat first before I go out there and make a fool of myself.”

Game Pass: San Francisco 49ers

Posted in Announcements | 18 Comments »

18 Responses to “LaMichael James Learns on the Job”

  1. By Chris Omaha, NE on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    Keep that work ethic up there LaMichael. I watched most of your career at Oregon and kept thinking you would make a great 49er and low and behold, you were selected. Now it’s time to prove yourself again. I know you are a running back and was great in Chip Kelly’s offense… I always looked at you though as a good candidate for receiver, like Jerry Rice… that man was quick like yourself and always creating big plays. When you see that special talent, you just know it. It’s like poetry in motion… Montana, Young and Rice all had it and I get that feeling from watching all of your Oregon games.

    Can’t wait to see you on the field, you are gonna be in that 49er hall of fame soon! Good Luck and Hard work LaMichael and Go Ducks and Go Niners!

  2. By ThunderCloud21 on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    Given what everyone saw him do up at Oregon, It seems to me that LaMichael would be an outstanding punt and kick returner, as well as a running back in the NFL. His size, cutting ability and speed should be good for that! We really need that talent because we’re relying entirely on Ginn (who’s had some injuries) and Kyle Williams who, although good, should really focus more on receiver.

  3. By cbj on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    .James did not look good in the pre-season handling punts; miss-judged and dropped them.

  4. By benny on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    L.James s/b used as a wideout to open up the underneath game for our running backs and tightends,because of his speed.Learn the game asap James.

  5. By Craig on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    Keep plugging along and good luck to you. I hope to see you on the field someday soon.

  6. By jamroc925 on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    lamichael, you should get to at least 200 lbs. so you last…200 lbs. as long as it doesnt diminish any of your abilities.

  7. By pete on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply


  8. By pete on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    take a look at the last 15 to 20 years of Oregon players. Only a couple have translated to the NFL game. I mean be a accutual impact player not a so so guy.For all of the yards they post in college most of the Oregon guys don”t do well in the NFL. James will be the same I hate to say,Oregon just is not made for the big boys!!!!!!

  9. By bobby on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    sounds like pete is a and maybe only a usc fan

  10. By CesarT on Oct 23, 2012 | Reply

    LaMichael I saw how explosive you were in Oregon and was pumped when we picked you up on a steal at the draft. Can’t wait to see those skills on the field. Learn what you can from Frank, that dude is a beast, and you’ll get there soon!!! I’m sure of it.

  11. By Paul on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    Pete, You could not be more wrong about ducks in the NFL. Take a look at just about any roster and you will see Ducks excelling at that level. It is easy to say things you know nothing about because you are a fan of another team.

  12. By The Cost on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    Keep the spirit Lamichael….. You’re a great player and someday I see you as the starter. saw you in pre-season and was impressed every time you touched the ball. You have the right attitude. Learn from the best. You have the best in Frank…. Jerry Rice learned his work ethic from Roger Craig. Work hard and you will go far. Good luck and I can’t wait till you take the field.

  13. By Ozzie on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    With his Speed and work ethic, i see nothing but good things in his future as a 49er. Learn the game, Get in on some special teams, and sooner rather then later he will be part of our supporting cast out there on the field.

  14. By 9erdog on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    Yeah I’d like to see him on the field as well! high price for a practice squad player, yeah I know a bit cynical, it just hard to grasp that our top 2 draft picks need all this coaching up.
    They could well have been in for a play here and there, just so they hit and be part of our team!
    If Roman plans is to hold these guys back for some kind of a surprise package, I really hope it works!

  15. By 9erdog on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    Every game is important of course, but out of our next 9 games
    5 are against division teams, and out of the other 4, 3 of those are against tough teams. So I don’t know what Romans up to, but we’re gonna have our hands full! And I don’t think that the
    Trick plays are gonna work against the likes da bears, or patriots for that mater.
    But like every fan here I hope for the best, and in closing I say!

  16. By 9er fan on Oct 24, 2012 | Reply

    i watched you all thru college now you got picked to my favorite nfl team the niners good luck to you i know you will dominate once you get in there

  17. By JParker on Oct 25, 2012 | Reply

    I would like to see more of him on the relief side.He is not as strong as Gore, but he is an electrifying runner that is a threat to go all the way as a running back or receiver every time he touches the ball, but he is also easier to stop then Gore and right now I think Harbaugh is more into ball control.

  18. By Fuzzy Bear on Nov 5, 2012 | Reply

    Do not doubt Lamichael’s toughness one bit. I spent a great many Saturdays watching him play in Eugene and he always finished hard. A lot of people think of Lamichael as purely a speed back but he did most of his damage between the tackles.

    I was also excited to see Lamichael come to the 49ers. I don’t have any kind of inside knowledge or anything but, I think he will make an impact late this year or into the playoffs to offer a new wrinkle in the offense teams…. a wrinkle our opponents have not planned for.

    Go Niners and go Ducks. Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

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