San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James is putting his time to use during Organized Team Activities (OTAs). Vowing to become even better in year two, the former Oregon Duck has added explosiveness and weight to his arsenal.
James told reporters:
“I’m way more explosive. I always felt that I was long-fast. I didn’t really know how explosive I was at the point of attack. I really worked hard at that, just being more explosive.”
If he has elevated his quickness and running ability, James will be in line for increased snaps. After sitting out of the 49ers’ first 12 games of 2012 (healthy scratch), he now inherits the primary backup duties to Frank Gore.
As a rookie, James averaged just over five carries and 27 rushing yards in seven career games. Although he flashed impressive speed at times, he was easy to bring down. By improving on his burst and elusiveness, defenders should find it a bit more challenging to wrap up the change-of-pace back.
The 2012 second-round pick also added 10 pounds to his frame. Now weighing in at 205 pounds, James has a better shot of staying healthy over a full season. That extra weight will also complement his speed with some power to break tackles.
Although he had his share of struggles offensively, he was an effective kick returner. Throughout the regular and postseason, James averaged 27.6 yards per return.
During OTAs, he has also fielded punts, which indicates that he could contribute in that role as well. James possesses game-changing talent when placed in the open field, so the 49ers are wise to utilize his abilities as much as possible.
Having a full offseason to enhance his overall game, look for James to bolster San Francisco’s offense and special teams unit in 2013.