In somewhat of a surprising move the San Francisco 49ers with the 61st selection of the 2012 NFL Draft chose LaMichael James a junior out of the University of Oregon. James was considered as being one of the better backs in the draft and offers tremendous speed. James will likely be used primarily as a third down back and James provides depth as he can also return kicks for the 49ers, which is great news for the 49ers because the team now has a backup to Ted Ginn in case of injury.
James will join a running back group consisting of Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, recently signed Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Dixon and this definitely provides competition in training camp for a spot on the active roster.
As for what James did at Oregon he produced from the moment he arrived on campus. As a freshman he carried the ball 230 times for 1,546 yards, a 6.7 yards per carry average and 14 touchdowns, sophomore year he carried the ball 294 times for 1,731 yards, a 5.9 yards per carry and 21 touchdowns and in his junior season which was his last and even after battling some injuries he carried the ball 247 times for 1,805 yards, had a 7.3 yards per carry average and 18 touchdowns.
In total he carried the ball 771 times for 5,082 yards and 53 touchdowns.
The knock on him is his size he’s 5’8″ and 194 pounds, so durability is a concern. He is a similar player to Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best a first round pick in the 2010 draft out of the University of Calfornia. Besides those two concerns on the football field the one thing that James will need to prove that he can do is catch the football as he only averaged 17 receptions per year.
Yet, James throughout his career put up impressive numbers he had a career long of 90, eight games of three touchdowns, seven games of over 200 yards rushing with a high of 288 yards.
With the pick of James showed that the 49ers were willing to go after the best player available and it certainly will provide some entertaining battles when training camp begins.
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