Aug 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers linebacker Frank Beltre (46) chases down San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James (23) behind the line of scrimmage for a loss during first quarter action at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

RB LaMichael James unsure of role with 49ers

LaMichael James has been something of a conundrum thus far in his NFL career.

After being selected in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft by the San Francisco 49ers, James saw limited action in his rookie season.  He played in just the team’s last four games, but performed well.

James carried 27 times for 125 yards in those games, and returned 14 kicks for 417 yards – a nearly 30-yard per return average.

In the playoffs, James rushed 11 times for 65 yards and a touchdown.  It seemed like he was on his way to becoming a change-of-pace type back for the 49ers, but that has not come to fruition thus far in 2013.

James has appeared in only two games this season after beginning the season with a knee injury.  While healthy, James hasn’t been utilized nearly like he was last season.  He has carried just 7 times for 31 yards.

Well, according to CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, even James doesn’t know where he stands with the team.

“I really don’t even know, to give an honest answer.” James said.

“The only thing I can do is go out there and just keep working hard. That’s the only thing I can control. The other stuff, really, is left up to the coaches. I just got to go out there and keep playing, keep competing and getting better,” James continued, according to the report.

Jim Harbaugh says James has a place with the team.

“His development has been fine,” Harbaugh said on Monday, according to CSN Bay Area.  “He’ll be back playing. I know the talk about insurance and etc. It’s no slight to LaMichael. LaMichael is very good player. And he’s a very valued member of our team.”

The question is what is that role?  The head coach seems to know, or could be providing lip service to keep his little-used back happy.  As for James, it’s difficult to say what the deal is.  Will he be trade bait?  Will he get used as the season progresses?  Or is he doomed to perpetually be limited to practice and scout team duties?

Time will tell.

Tags: Jim Harbaugh LaMichael James NFL San Francisco 49ers

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