2014 DRAFT GUIDE
James goes from spectator to contributor for 49ers

By JOSH DUBOW - AP Sports Writer
    2013-01-25 16:44

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - LaMichael James has transformed himself from a rookie spectator forced to watch the first three months of the season to a key contributor to a Super Bowl team in a matter of weeks for the San Francisco 49ers.

After being inactive the first 12 games of the season, James has become an impact player for the 49ers in their run to the Super Bowl next week against Baltimore.

His long kickoff return set up the go-ahead score in a late-season win in New England. His experience running the zone read helped Colin Kaepernick rush for 181 yards in a win to open the playoffs against Green Bay. Then James got into the scoring act himself last week, starting San Francisco's comeback in a 28-24 win over Atlanta in the NFC championship.

``I had a lot to learn,'' James said. ``I'm still learning. I'm very blessed to be in the situation I'm in.''

Fresh off scoring his first professional touchdown in last week's win over the Falcons, James is finally fulfilling the expectations the Niners had for him after drafting him in the second round last April following a stellar college career at Oregon.

``From the first time he stepped on the field, he's been dynamic,'' coach Jim Harbaugh said.

Getting on the field was the hard part. James was inactive the first 12 games as he had to adjust to playing from a huddle after being part of Oregon's fast-paced offense for three years and to learn a much more extensive playbook than he was used to with the Ducks.

James dutifully worked at learning his craft, making his contributions as a scout team running back and receiver and soaking in whatever tips he could get from starter Frank Gore and running backs coach Tom Rathman.

``It was very different,'' James said. ``I'd never really been in a huddle until I was in high school. Actually, sitting in a huddle and then having to remember it - and not just run it - that was a little bit different for me, but it all works out.''

James got his chance after Kendall Hunter went down with a season-ending Achilles' injury in New Orleans on Nov. 25. The Niners needed a change-of-pace back to team with Gore and James proved to be a perfect fit.

James was helped by the fact that the Niners offense had changed a bit with the switch at quarterback to Kaepernick from Alex Smith, with the team using more of the read-option plays James was so proficient at in college.

``Once he started getting comfortable, we saw a dynamic football player,'' safety Donte Whitner said. ``It's a testament to him to be able to sit on the sideline and be on the developmental squad, as we like to call it, here for so long and actually knowing that you can play football. Actually coming from a big university, playing in a lot of big games, playing a lot of big games and being a big-time player, and having to sit out and be humbled like that, that's a testament to him and the character he has.''

James rushed for 5,082 yards and scored 58 touchdowns in three seasons for the Ducks, including 471 yards of offense and four touchdowns in two games against Stanford when Harbaugh ran the Cardinal.

Playing for a perennial title contender at Oregon has prepared James for the big stage of the NFL playoffs. He played in three BCS bowl games, including the national championship game against Auburn at the end of his second year in January 2011. He capped his college career by rushing for 159 yards and one touchdown in a 45-38 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin last January.

``I don't think there's too much difference from playing a BCS game at Oregon,'' James said of the NFL playoffs. ``I think it's really helped me out playing big games like these. It's second nature to me. I really don't think it's too big a deal.''

He has shown that so far, playing his best on the biggest stage. After making his debut against Miami on Dec. 9 with eight carries for 30 yards, James delivered his most important play of the regular season the following week in a prime-time game at New England.

He returned a kick 62 yards after New England rallied back from 31-3 down to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Kaepernick threw a touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree on the next play as the Niners went on to the win that proved to be the difference in the NFC West race with Seattle.

The big plays have kept coming in the playoffs. He was the decoy on Kaepernick's 56-yard option keeper that gave San Francisco the lead for good two weeks ago in the 49ers' playoff opener against Green Bay.

He then had five carries for 34 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown run that started the Niners comeback in Atlanta that has them preparing for the Super Bowl.

``He always has been a smart player,'' Gore said. ``First, coming in the offense was kind of different. Now the offense is similar to what he did in college. That helps him a lot.''

NOTES: LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder) practiced for the first time this week. ... TE Garrett Celek (foot) is still sidelined.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Matt JonesMay 20 02:15p

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones said that he loves the offense and has a chip on his shoulder after not being used properly while in college. 'My college career [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 20 08:53a

Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) is experiencing numbness in his right ring finger. He hopes to avoid surgery through rest and rehab, and no [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 19 06:13p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) has a right ring finger injury that could be surgically repaired. A return for training camp is still achievable, however, according to a source.

L. WashingtonMay 19 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR L'Damian Washington (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, May 19.

Shayne GrahamMay 19 03:03p

New Orleans Saints PK Shayne Graham was released Tuesday, May 19. Subsequently, free-agent WR Lance Lewis (49ers) was signed.

Joseph BarksdaleMay 19 02:23p

Free-agent OT Joseph Barksdale (Rams) will sign a one-year deal worth $350,000 with the San Diego Chargers, according to a source. The deal also comes with more than $1 million in incentives available.

Tom BradyMay 19 01:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will continue to appeal his four-game suspension, despite owner Robert Kraft saying the team will not appeal the discipline levied against them.

Jed CollinsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Tyler CluttsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Lache SeastrunkMay 18 02:42p

Tennessee Titans RB Lache Seastrunk was released Monday, May 18.

Jimmy GaroppoloMay 17 08:42p

New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo's quick decision making and accuracy fit well with New England's playbook that includes quick-rhythm passes as part of the foundation, and Bucky Brooks [ More ]

Zach HockerMay 17 04:42p

The New Orleans Saints have signed free-agent PK Zach Hocker (Dolphins).

Joseph RandleMay 16 07:32p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle has the skills to lead the team's backfield in 2015 but he'll need to work on his off-field issues, according to Jon Machota of [ More ]

Matt CasselMay 15 07:52p

Buffalo Bills QB Matt Cassel is likely to enter Week 1 of the season as the team's backup quarterback, in the opinion of The Buffalo News' Vic Carucci. He [ More ]

Santana MossMay 15 07:12p

Free-agent WR Santana Moss (Redskins) is not ready to hang up his cleats and retire this offseason. 'I'm a free agent right now, you know how they do [ More ]

Robert TurbinMay 14 05:32p

Seattle Seahawks RB Robert Turbin (hip) underwent hip surgery this offseason, according to sources. No timetable was disclosed for his recovery.

Tom BradyMay 14 03:52p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has officially appealed his four-game suspension.

Greg SalasMay 13 02:23p

Free-agent WR Greg Salas (Jets) signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions Wednesday, May 13. Financial terms were not disclosed.

John ConnerMay 13 12:03p

Free-agent FB John Conner (Jets) signed with the Buffalo Bills Wednesday, May 13. FB Corey Knox was waived to make room for him.

Tom BradyMay 13 10:03a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's four-game suspension could be reduced significantly, and possibly overturned, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Brady has put together a renowned legal team to appeal his suspension.

D.J. SwearingerMay 12 05:22p

Free-agent SS D.J. Swearinger was officially claimed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tuesday, May 12.

Fred JacksonMay 12 03:13p

Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson may not make the final roster if the Bills end up keeping only three running backs, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. RB LeSean [ More ]

Lance MooreMay 12 01:23p

Free-agent WR Lance Moore (Steelers) signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions.

Justin BlackmonMay 12 11:02a

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon was denied reinstatement by the NFL this offseason, according to The Associated Press' Mark Long. It's unclear whether Blackmon failed a drug test or [ More ]

Joseph RandleMay 12 10:42a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle could see the bulk of the carries as the season weighs on, in the opinion of beat writer Todd Archer. Archer pegged Randle for [ More ]

Jimmy GaroppoloMay 11 09:42p

New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to start while QB Tom Brady serves his suspension for 'DeflateGate'. Brady was suspended four games by the National Football League [ More ]

Tom BradyMay 11 07:12p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will appeal his four-game suspension, according to his agent.

Tom BradyMay 11 05:52p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has been suspended four games for his involvement in the deflated-football incident in the AFC Championship. In addition, the Patriots will lose their [ More ]

D.J. SwearingerMay 11 04:12p

Houston Texans SS D.J. Swearinger was officially released Monday, May 11.

Carey SpearMay 11 01:22p

Cleveland Browns PKs Travis Coons and Carey Spear will compete for the kicker job this offseason, and the competition is wide open at this point, according to special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.

Garrett HartleyMay 11 01:12p

Cleveland Browns PK Garrett Hartley was released Monday, May 11.

Kyle ArringtonMay 11 10:32a

New England Patriots CB Kyle Arrington was released Monday, May 11, according to a source. The team left the door open for him to return.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group