LaMichael James possesses every unique skill necessary running backs of smaller stature must possess; he is fast, explosive, agile, and stronger than many will give him credit for. Standing at 5 feet 9 inches and weighing 195 pounds, Lamichael James will look to contribute to the San Francisco 49ers as a return specialist and as an offensive weapon, complementing Frank Gore’s running style, as Gore is primarily the ground and pound power set back, and James is the versatile speed back able to line up anywhere from the back field to the slot position; motioned to and from creating confusion for the opposing defenses.
The old school thunder and lightning term could be applied here with these two solid backs, each expecting to carry a load for this offense, Gore in the more traditional sense and James providing the change of pace and flexibility for the coaching staff to diversify the play calling. Along with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, known for his speed and dynamic ability, and Kendall Hunter who is expected to return this season from his torn Achilles tendon, this 49er backfield could be the best running backfield in Football.
With an increased role LaMicheal James should see a slight increase in fantasy value as well. More touches for any offensive stud equals more attention from fantasy football managers across the globe. Especially in leagues which partake in special teams stats, which is hopefully all by now, and the leagues which offer expanded roster spaces with utility player options. Being that James is capable of taking it to the house every time he breaks into the open field with space to run, and special teams providing a much greater opportunity to do so, look for James’ stock to rise up draft boards in deep leagues. I would go as far to take him anywhere before the 10th round but if you find yourself in the late rounds with only one decent back because you jumped all over a deep receiver draft too early, well then LaMichael James just might be your guy, and he just could be that late round steal.
James is going to touch the ball this year a lot more than last season, where he only had 27 attempts for 125 yards rushing, but did have a better than average 4.6 yards per carry. All of that after sitting out the first 12 games; until Kendall Hunter went on the Injured reserve, James was watching and learning. With only a small sample size thus far, we can only point to his play in the postseason as valid evidence that LaMichael James can play in the NFL, and there is much more to come from his 11 carries for 65 rushing yards, and a touchdown, averaging a whopping 5.9 yards per carry (playoffs). The big play ability of James shined on the big stage, a time when big time players are expected to. Being on the main stage at Oregon must have prepared LaMichael James for such events, but having the patience to ride the bench for majority of the season showed maturity on James’ end, and being able to perform on short noticed when they needed him most, showed his dedication to his team. Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff must be salivating at the opportunity to employ the unique ability of LaMichael James to line up anywhere on the field and create mismatches. With a solid offensive line, a diversified offensive playbook, the potential is here, and LaMichael James appears destined for a breakout season.