49ers Mailbag: James' exact role remains a mystery


49ers Mailbag: James' exact role remains a mystery

Let's go straight to the 49ers' Mailbag . . . Q: How has LaMichael James progressed in camp? Haven't heard a lot of news about him. (@DemilleHunt)
LaMichael James is quick. LaMichael James is fast. But can LaMichael James elude the quicker, faster defensive players he'll face in the NFL?I suspect he can -- certainly not to the level at which he made defenders miss while at Oregon -- but it's difficult to get much of a read on James during practices when there's no tackling allowed.The only thing I've learned about James during training camp is that he appears to be a lot more comfortable fielding punts than I anticipated when the 49ers selected him in the second round of the draft.James is probably the most intriguing of the 49ers' offensive players because of the number of options he gives offensive coordinator Greg Roman. He can line up in the backfield, in the slot or split out wide.I suspect we won't see a whole lot of variety from James during the four exhibition games. After all, the 49ers want to keep the Green Bay Packers guessing about how James will be utilized on Sept. 9 in the season opener at Lambeau Field.
Frankly, I'm of the opinion that Kendall Hunter is still the 49ers' second-best running back. I'm not exactly sure how James fits into the picture this season. But it's almost imperative the 49ers find a way to get the ball into James' hands at least a handful of times. After all, they spent a second-round pick on him for a reason.
Q: Randy Moss, a Pro Bowler this year? (@EmirMetovic)
That would surprise me. No, actually, that would shock me.While Randy Moss has done everything the 49ers have asked of him, beginning when he reported for the 49ers' offseason program, let's not forget he's 35 years old and sat out last season after being unproductive for three different teams in 2010.The way Mario Manningham has played this week at training camp, it's reasonable to think Moss could be the 49ers' third-best wide receiver this season. I certainly do not expect Moss to have a great volume of receptions this season on a team that also features Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Manningham.The 49ers' offensive approach is not going to change this season. Roman and coach Jim Harbaugh want to run the ball. But each game is a different entity. If the 49ers are playing from in front, they're going to run the ball more. If they're playing catch-up, they'll throw.They are not going to morph in to a spread offense and throw the ball around the field on a week-to-week basis because that's not the way they're built. So I expect pass-catchers on other teams will put up better stats and get Pro Bowl recognition.

Bowman returns to practice at full speed


Bowman returns to practice at full speed

SANTA CLARA – NaVorro Bowman, who sustained a season-ending torn Achilles in Week 4, has been a full participant as the 49ers return to the practice field this week.

Bowman worked with the first team at middle linebacker Wednesday and appeared to move at top speed as the 49ers went through the second day of on-field workouts at a voluntary minicamp.

The 49ers, under new coach Kyle Shanahan, are allowed an extra voluntary minicamp as part of their offseason program. Bowman's return to the practice field was the highlight as the 49ers enter their third-week of the offseason program.

In other notes:

--The 49ers had tryouts with three unsigned veteran players: cornerback Steve Williams, and offensive linemen Tim Barnes and Kitt O’Brien.

--Wide receiver DeAndre Carter made the best catch of the day on a deep throw from quarterback Matt Barkley. Carter beat Williams on the reception.

--Defensive lineman Arik Armstead, who is a candidate to play the “Leo” position, was held out of competitive drills as he continues to recovery from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

--Ronald Blair lined up at the “Leo” position with the first-team defense and beat No. 2 right tackle Garry Gilliam for a sack in the “non-contract” drills. Aaron Lynch was at the “Leo” position with the second team.

--Tank Carradine lined up at the 5-technique, which is a position where the 49ers could target Stanford’s Solomon Thomas with the No. 2 overall pick.

--Kyle Juszczyk showed the versatility that prompted the 49ers to make him the highest-paid fullback in the league with several pass receptions during the 90-minute practice.

--Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson lined up at the cornerbacks with the first-team defense. Robinson made a leaping interception of a Brian Hoyer deep sideline pass against Rashad Ross during 7-on-7 drills.

--Hoyer and receiver Pierre Garçon teamed up for a 20-yard completion on teh opening play of the 11-on-11 period.

--Wide receiver Bruce Ellington, who spent all of last season on injured reserve, did not practice due to a soft-tissue injury not related to his hamstring injury of a year ago.

--Offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah (soft tissue), tight end Je’Ron Hamm (leg), running back Raheem Mostert (soft tissue), linebacker Eli Harold (toe) and tight end Blake Bell (cut forehead) did not practice.


Brian Hoyer not living his life worried about 49ers possibly drafting a QB

Brian Hoyer not living his life worried about 49ers possibly drafting a QB

Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley are the only two quarterbacks currently on the 49ers' roster.

Is Hoyer operating as if he will be the starter in 2017?

"Yeah for sure. I think that's what I was brought in to do at this point," Hoyer said on KNBR 680 on Wednesday morning. "And the thing that I've learned in this profession, and really in life, is not worry about things you can't control. I can't control who they draft with the second pick tomorrow and I'm not gonna live my life worrying about it."

The 49ers own the second overall pick in the draft and are reportedly strongly considering taking a QB with that selection.

Even if they do, it doesn't mean that player will start from Day 1.

Hoyer worked with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan in Cleveland during the 2014 season -- he started a career-high 13 games with the Browns and threw for a career-best 3,326 yards.

"I'm gonna go out there and do what I think my job is at this point," Hoyer added. "And I'm gonna do that as long as I can until they tell me it's not my job anymore."