After being a superstar for Oregon during his final college days, LaMichael James was treated to a different reality once joining the San Francisco 49ers, hardly getting any touches on offense while mostly being seen in action through kick and punt returns.
In 2013, it seems it’s going to be different. Frank Gore, despite the huge workload and amount of carries he’s had over the last few years (1784 since 2006, averaging 254.9 carries a season) shows no signs of slowing down, rushing for over 1200 yards these last couple of seasons, so the number one back position seems to be reserved for just one player.
However, James, who got only 27 carries last season (rushing for 127 yards) to show his exceptional top-end speed, scoring his first career touchdown deep into the postseason against the Atlanta Falcons, is getting most of the #1 running back carries in Spring practices so far, which means he’s looking to see an expanded role next year.
The 49ers also have Kendall Hunter who was the number 2 option last season, but has an ACL surgery to recover from, while Colin Kaepernick takes quite a lot of the running plays to himself, which doesn’t leave much for the rest of the guys.
No one really admitted, but James didn’t get too many touches last season because he was too far behind on what was expected from him when it came to pass protection. However, he has added 10 pounds of muscle to his frame this offseason, something he insists won’t take away from his speed. He’s already going to be the kick and punt returner for the team, and looking more and more likely to feature much more in the backfield.
Marcus Lattimore? The 2013 season will be somewhat of red-shirt year for him, as the 49ers will give him the chance to recover from his severe knee injury that seemed like the end of his career not too long ago.