San Francisco 49ers backup running back LaMichael James is an excellent returner and a solid all-around back, but he has barely played this season. James, who is one of the best college football players in recent memory following his amazing career with the Oregon Ducks, is unsurprisingly upset with his lack of a role in the offense. Plus, he’s seen his special teams impact dissipate due to a severe lack of usage. It’s unclear as to why the 49ers aren’t using James, because he has talent and looked promising last season. However, Kendall Hunter’s play has had plenty to do with James’s reduced role, and the 49ers obviously love using Frank Gore (Colin Kaepernick also saps out potential carries).
But 49ers GM Trent Baalke stated that the 49ers will ask LaMichael James to “contribute” at some point in the future, “We’re not interested in trading LaMichae. LaMichael is a key player and there will be a time, sooner or later, to (contribute).”
It’s a pretty vague statement, but it’s nothing that we didn’t already expect. Even so, it’s interesting to hear that Baalke isn’t interested in dealing away the second-year RB, because the 49ers will likely have to make a trade at the deadline. That’s what happens when you have an awful lot of depth and three talented players set to be activated. The 49ers will have to make room for solid WR Mario Manningham, talented rookie pass rusher Tank Carradine, and CB Eric Wright.
The San Jose Mercury News’s Cam Inman names Nnamdi Asomugha as a potential trade piece once Wright is activated. We’ll see if James gets his number called more often as the season progresses, since they aren’t interested in dealing him.