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

Sammy WatkinsSep 21 08:32p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs) was able to play in Week 3 against the San Diego Chargers, but he was limited to just two receptions and 19 yards. He was targeted eight times.

Tre BostonSep 21 07:52p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Andrew Norwell, OT David Foucault, RB DeAngelo Williams, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Jerricho Cotchery, QB Joe Webb, SS Tre Boston inactive for Week 3.

DeAngelo WilliamsSep 21 07:42p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Andrew Norwell, RB DeAngelo Williams, OT Garry Williams, DL Greg Hardy, LB Jason Williams, QB Joe Webb, SS Tre Boston inactive for Week 3.

DeAngelo WilliamsSep 21 07:42p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (thigh) is inactive for the Week 3 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

B.W. WebbSep 21 07:42p

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared CB B.W. Webb, DT Daniel McCullers, RB Dri Archer, QB Landry Jones, WR Martavis Bryant, OG Ramon Foster, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 3.

L. TaliaferroSep 21 07:23p

Baltimore Ravens RB Lorenzo Taliaferro carried a game-high 18 times for 91 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns. He was subbing for the injured RB Bernard Pierce (thigh).

Chris WilliamsSep 21 07:12p

Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills WR Marcus Easley (knee), SS Da'Norris Searcy (ankle) and OG Chris Williams (back) were each unable to return after leaving the Week 3 [ More ]

Nick NovakSep 21 07:12p

San Diego Chargers PK Nick Novak made a pair of field goals and he had two extra points in the Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills. He has [ More ]

Danny WoodheadSep 21 06:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Danny Woodhead (ankle, leg) suffered a severe high ankle sprain and fractured fibula in the Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills. A source said [ More ]

Dennis PittaSep 21 06:42p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) suffered a dislocated hip in the Week 3 game against the Cleveland Browns. He will have tests Monday, Sept. 22, to check for a possible fracture.

T Y HiltonSep 21 06:42p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) left the Week 3 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars due to an ankle injury. Head coach Chuck Pagano said Sunday, Sept. 21, that [ More ]

Jake LockerSep 21 06:23p

Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker remains the starting quarterback, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt said Sunday, Sept. 21, that he never considered benching Locker despite a lopsided loss in [ More ]

Matt CasselSep 21 05:52p

Minnesota Vikings QB Matt Cassel (foot) has several fractured bones in his foot, head coach Mike Zimmer said Sunday, Sept. 21, after the Week 3 game against the New Orleans Saints.

Blake BortlesSep 21 05:52p

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said Sunday, Sept. 21, that QB Blake Bortles will start in Week 4 against the San Diego Chargers.

Russell OkungSep 21 05:52p

Seattle Seahawks OT Russell Okung (chest) left the Week 3 game against the Denver Broncos in the second quarter and he was immediately taken to the locker room due to an apparent chest injury.

Teddy BridgewaterSep 21 05:52p

Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater will take over as the team's starting quarterback in Week 4 after QB Matt Cassel (foot) suffered fractured bones in his foot in Week [ More ]

Donald BrownSep 21 05:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown had a career-high 36 touches in the Week 3 win against the Buffalo Bills. He ran 31 times for 62 yards, and had five catches for 27 yards.

Kyle RudolphSep 21 05:12p

Updating a previous report, Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (groin) will have an MRI on his right groin Monday, Sept. 22. 'Something popped. I've been battling it for a [ More ]

Jerick McKinnonSep 21 05:12p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (ankle, foot) left the Week 3 game against the New Orleans Saints due to a right ankle or foot injury. He had his right [ More ]

DeAngelo HallSep 21 05:12p

Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall (Achilles') said after the Week 3 game against the Philadelphia Eagles that he fears he suffered a torn Achilles'. Head coach Jay Gruden said [ More ]

Jason HatcherSep 21 05:12p

Washington Redskins DE Jason Hatcher (hamstring) left the Week 3 game against the Philadelphia Eagles due to a hamstring injury. He said Sunday, Sept. 21, that he came out [ More ]

Brandon FuscoSep 21 04:02p

Minnesota Vikings OG Brandon Fusco (shoulder) suffered a shoulder injury during the team's Week 3 game, while CB Josh Robinson (hamstring) suffered a hamstring injury.

Marcus EasleySep 21 03:32p

Buffalo Bills WR Marcus Easley (knee) and SS Da'Norris Searcy (ankle) suffered injuries during the team's Week 3 game and are considered questionable to return.

Greg ScruggsSep 21 03:22p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared OT Garry Gilliam, LB Bruce Irvin, OT Andrew McDonald, RB Christine Michael, WR Kevin Norwood, DE Greg Scruggs, CB Tharold Simon inactive for Week 3.

Jamaal CharlesSep 21 03:12p

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared SS Eric Berry, RB Jamaal Charles, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, QB Aaron Murray, DE Damion Square, RB De'Anthony Thomas, WR Albert Wilson inactive for Week 3.

Carson PalmerSep 21 03:12p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (shoulder) has been declared inactive for the team's Week 3 game.

Tony CarterSep 21 03:12p

The Denver Broncos have declared CB Tony Carter, OG Ben Garland, WR Cody Latimer, LB Lerentee McCray, OT Michael Schofield, LB Danny Trevathan, DT Mitch Unrein inactive for Week 3.

Jamaal CharlesSep 21 03:11p

Charles is out for the Week 3 game.

Mike PounceySep 21 03:02p

The Miami Dolphins have declared DE Terrence Fede, LB Koa Misi, RB Knowshon Moreno, C Mike Pouncey, OG Shelley Smith, LB Jordan Tripp and OT Billy Turner inactive for Week 3.

Vernon DavisSep 21 02:52p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis (ankle, knee) has been declared inactive for Week 3.

Vernon DavisSep 21 02:52p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared CB Tramaine Brock, DE Cornellius Carradine, OT Anthony Davis, TE Vernon Davis, C Marcus Martin, TE Vance McDonald, WR Quinton Patton inactive for Week 3.

Chad HenneSep 21 02:52p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles entered the team's Week 3 game in the second half after QB Chad Henne was benched.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group