Harbaugh on LaMichael: 'He's a valuable member of our team'
LaMichael James has been inactive for 17 of the 26 meaningful games he’s been on the 49ers after being chosen in the second round of the 2012 draft. (AP)
Editor’s note: Read Insider Matt Maiocco’s reports from the U.K. all week long as the 49ers gear up for their Week 8 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London
LONDON – Running back LaMichael James is clearly frustrated with his lack of a role with the 49ers.
And 49ers general manager Trent Baalke likes that James feels that way.
“You’d be disappointed if a player wasn’t playing and wasn’t frustrated because of it,” Baalke said on Friday in a meeting with reporters at the team’s hotel.
With the trade deadline approaching on Tuesday, Baalke said James is not being shopped on the market to other teams in the NFL.
“We’re not interested in trading LaMichael,” Baalke said. “LaMichael’s a key player and there will be a time -- whether that’s sooner or later, that’s yet to be determined – just as it was last year.”
James has been a healthy inactive player in each of the 49ers’ past two games. Only 46 players on a team’s 53-man roster are allowed to suit up for games. James has not made the cut – in the same way he did not suit up for the 49ers’ first 12 games of his rookie season.
James became a factor for the 49ers last season only after backup running back Kendall Hunter sustained a season-ending torn Achilles tendon. James was active for the final four games of the regular season and each of the three postseason games.
“And, then, all of a sudden, there was a need and he stepped in and did a tremendous job,” Baalke said. “We would expect nothing different. That’s really what we expect of all of our players.”
James has been inactive for 17 of the 26 meaningful games he’s been on the 49ers after being chosen in the second round of the 2012 draft following a standout three-year career at Oregon.
There are no guarantees of a role for James on Sunday when the 49ers face the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. James is behind Frank Gore and Hunter on the depth chart. Also, the 49ers use Anthony Dixon as the No 3 halfback on game days because of his value on special teams.
“A lot of things can happen in this sport,” Baalke said. “I know this: I trust the coaches to make the right decisions.”
And the reason the coaching staff has decided to keep James on the sideline is because of where he fits into the overall picture.
"When he’s gotten the opportunity, I think you have seen his abilities," Baalke said. "But, yet, you’re looking at Frank, who is going to be the workhorse, and rightfully so. He’s one of the best backs of all time. And certainly one of the best inside runners of all time.
"When you’ve got a crowded backfield, you can only bring so many guys to the active roster. And you have a guy like Anthony Dixon, who was so valuable on special teams that he’s going to be up. And you have a fullback (Bruce Miller). Our offense is a fullback-driven offense. That player is on the field a lot for us, and he’s also a member of special teams. So there are only so many guys you can dress, and that plays a big factor into his current role with this football team."
In line image of LaMichael James provided by The Associated Press