The designation marks the second game in a row for the 2nd year back out of Oregon. Still, San Francisco says it values his presence on the roster.
“We definitely all value and look at LaMichael as a backup running back, like a two,” 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said earlier in the week. “And, there’s going to come time where he is a, like last year, where he’s fully in the mix and depended on and that time will come again. But, he’s doing a good job. I know he wants to play, he wants to be contributing, and when he is dressed he is contributing and doing that.”
In 4 games as a rookie last season, James rushed 27 times for 125 yards for a 4.6 yard average. In the postseason, he ran 11 times for 65 yards and a touchdown.
James returned 14 kicks in 2012 for 417 yards, or roughly 30-yards a touch.
In the preseason, it looked like James was poised to be the punt returner for the 49ers, but a knee injury derailed that idea and WR Kyle Williams took over.
In 6 games this season, Williams has been ineffective. He has caught 21 passes for 101 yards, with no touchdowns. This on a team with relatively few receiving targets, lost due to injury.
Williams has returned 8 punts for a grand total of 57 yards – essentially not a factor at all in the return game either.
So the question remains: Why isn’t San Francisco utilizing James in the return game or as a change-of-pace type back? What they are using is providing them with absolutely nothing.