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

LaMichael James' 49ers roster spot assured after Kendall Hunter injury

The San Francisco 49ers sustained a blow when backup running back Kendall Hunter suffered a torn ACL during Friday’s practice.

Still, there are a couple of Niners players that will benefit from Hunter’s absence, specifically the team’s running backs previously behind Hunter on the depth chart.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com speculates that one of those players, LaMichael James, locked up a roster spot due to Hunter’s injury.

James’ spot on the roster appears virtually assured now. He appears to be the team’s most reliable return man. And, now, he moves up a spot on the team’s depth chart at running back.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee took it a step further and suggested that James is now the front-runner for the backup job, not decorated rookie running back Carlos Hyde.

Now James finds himself as perhaps the team’s No. 2 option on the third day of training camp. (…) Another challenger, Marcus Lattimore, has had a staggered start to training camp and is still not healthy enough to join practices.

James has played sparingly throughout his first two seasons in the NFL. He has just 39 carries. Still, James has posted an impressive 4.7 yards per carry average. Perhaps his best performance came in the 2013 NFC Championship Game in which he scored his only career touchdown and added 34 yards on the ground.
Hyde ran for 1,521 yards on a 7.3 yards per carry average with Ohio State this past season.
Whether Hyde or James ultimately lands the No. 2 job, it’s clear the 49ers have plenty of talent in the backfield and should be able to survive Hunter’s absence.
James was the No. 61 pick in the 2012 draft out of Oregon.

Tags: Kendall Hunter LaMichael James NFL San Francisco 49ers

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