A bad preseason San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James got a lot worse last night when the sustained a left knee injury in the preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers. James reportedly suffered a sprained MCL. James won’t require surgery, but is expected to miss three weeks.
After James averaged an impressive 29.8 yards a return in the regular season last year, the 49ers will have a big void that have to fill on special teams, and as Cam Inman of Mercury News reports, it could be filled by a committee of players:
Punt-return duties likely will fall to Kyle Williams, who did not play in the exhibition season as a precaution. Williams has said he’s recovered from a training-camp hamstring strain and last season’s anterior-cruciate-ligament tear.
Perrish Cox, the 49ers’ No. 5 cornerback, also gained experience this exhibition season returning punts and kickoffs. Roster hopefuls Chad Hall and Lavelle Hawkins could be in the mix, too, along with rookie wideout Quinton Patton.
James, a second-round choice in 2012, emerged as a change-of-pace runner behind Frank Gore during the final few weeks of the regular season. James had 24 carries for 55 yards and a 2.3-yard average during this preseason.