Former Oregon standout and Heisman Trophy finalist LaMichael James, who was drafted in the second round of this year's NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, is expected to finally be activated and make his NFL debut in San Francisco's upcoming game against Miami, according to James and his head coach on Tuesday.
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh also hinted that James could be in uniform.
“Yes,” Harbaugh said on KNBR. “I think that’s a real possibility. He’s worked hard for an opportunity and that’s something that’s definitely a possibility that’s coming.”
On Tuesday afternoon, James himself tweeted, "The wait is over."
According to SFGate's Eric Branch, "of the first 13 running backs selected through the draft’s 182 picks, James, the No. 61 selection, is the only one yet to play."
After being drafted late in the second round, many expected James to compete for backup snaps behind starting running back Frank Gore. Instead, James has watched all of San Francisco's 12 games from the sideline while Kendall Hunter has earned the majority of the non-Gore snaps by racking up an impressive 5.2 yards per carry.
Hunter suffered a season-ending injury on November 25, opening the door for someone to step up and take over the backup role in the bay.
Fellow running back Anthony Dixon has run the ball 12 times for 48 yards a score this season. Last week, with Hunter out, Gore, Dixon, and Brandon Jacobs were the three running backs activated for the team's 16-13 overtime loss to St. Louis.
Former New York Giants star running back Jacobs, who signed with the 49ers in the off-season, has only carried the ball six times, gaining a total of four yards. That, combined with the fact that Jacobs is traditionally more of a third-and-short power back, seems to indicate that James' turn has finally arrived.
While there may not be a definitive answer for why James hasn't had a single NFL snap yet, Frank Gore has implied that James hasn't developed enough patience in the backfield, saying that James was used to Oregon's high-speed spread offense.
“I just told him it’s not how fast you are, it’s about patience and how fast you can get through it,” Gore said. “He tries to get the ball and just use his speed. I told him you have to let things develop and see it. And when you see it, that’s when you’re fast between the holes.”
James owns a plethora of Oregon rushing records, and it looks like he may finally have an opportunity to break into the NFL this weekend against the Miami Dolphins.
San Francisco hosts Miami on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 1:05 p.m. PST.
© 2012 Max Price - All Rights Reserved.
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