James forced to learn unfamiliar concept: Huddling up

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James forced to learn unfamiliar concept: Huddling up

SANTA CLARA -- From what was seen of running back LaMichael James during his Oregon career, he might've been claustrophobic and nobody would've known.In his first week of 49ers training camp, James is getting accustomed to entering an offensive huddle. And when he runs the ball between the tackles, he does not have the kind of space and decisions that were commonplace in the Oregon spread offense."Yeah, there is less room, but I think it's easier, too," James said Thursday. "At Oregon, they're all spread out, but you have to make a decision ASAP. It's either there or there. It's not one of those things, where you know it (the hole) is going to be there. When I was at Oregon, it could've gone anywhere."RELATED: LaMichael James' stats
James, the 49ers' second-round draft pick, never entered a huddle during his college career. The Oregon offense received play calls from hand signals."Just being in a huddle, I think that's slow to me because I've never been in a huddle," James said. "At Oregon, we ran plays back-to-back-to-back. I never just ran a play and got in a huddle. I had to adjust to that."
And James didn't seem to have many people on opposing defenses around him, either. Running out of the spread offense, James averaged 7.3 yards per carry while gaining 1,805 yards and 18 touchdowns."He was a very effective inside and outside runner," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "He's a tough in-between-the-tackles runner in college. Now it's a matter of him adapting to that in the pros."RELATED: Meet the Rookies -- 49ers' RB LaMichael James
But there are legitimate questions about the pounding James can take in the NFL at his size (5-foot-9, 195 pounds). Roman, however, believes James can be an effective inside runner with the 49ers."There's a general misconception among some people who think just because a guy isn't a big guy, he can't run inside," Roman said. "I think we have the guy who proves that theory wrong, and that's Frank (Gore). He's not a giant, but he has such incredible vision and foot quickness and his mind and his feet work together. LaMichael is a guy who has really good vision, as well."Running the football in college is totally different than running it in the NFL in the sense that the defensive lines in the National Football League are so much more physical and adept and skilled, man for man."James is battling for a role and playing time, along with Kendall Hunter and Brandon Jacobs, behind Gore.

49ers have already spent more in 2017 free agency than a year ago

49ers have already spent more in 2017 free agency than a year ago

Under the 49ers’ new regime, the club has already invested more in the free-agent market than a year ago under then-general manager Trent Baalke.

Just a reminder: The free-agent signing period does not officially open until March 9.

The 49ers on Friday reached a contract agreement with veteran defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, who is penciled into be a starter in the team’s new 4-3 base scheme under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

"As soon as Earl hit the open market, he became a priority for us to sign,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement released Saturday morning. “A man of high character, he represents everything we want to be as a football team. Earl is a tone-setter who plays the game with a tremendous passion and the effort necessary to win in this league. We believe those qualities are contagious and will help to make our team stronger. We look forward to the impact Earl will have on the field, in the locker room and in our community.”

It was the first significant move under Lynch, who also signed a player with NFL experience earlier in the week.

The 49ers also added cornerback K’Waun Williams to a one-year contract. Williams served as the Cleveland Browns’ nickel back for two seasons. The Browns released him before the start of last season and he was unable to play due to an ankle injury.

Mitchell was available to be signed before the start of the new league year because the Miami Dolphins released him last week in a move to save the team $4 million in cap space.

Mitchell took four free-agent visits and after wrapping up his tour with the Atlanta Falcons on Friday, he and the 49ers quickly agreed on a four-year, $16 million contract that includes $5.5 million of money in the first year, according to a source.

Last year, Baalke did little to improve the roster for coach Chip Kelly. The 49ers, who finished 5-11 in Jim Tomsula's one season, dropped to 2-14. Just hours after the season concluded, the 49ers announced the firings of Baalke and Kelly.

The only veteran free-agent addition who stepped on the field for the 49ers last season was offensive lineman Zane Beadles. The 49ers signed Beadles in late-March to a three-year, $9.75 million contract with a $1.75 million signing bonus. Beadles had a good season for the 49ers, starting 12 games at left guard, two games at left tackle and the final two games at center.

The 49ers have already shown more willingness to be aggressive under Lynch’s leadership.

Mitchell, 29, is a seven-year veteran who began his NFL career from 2010 to ’13 with the Houston Texans. He was a rookie in Saleh’s final season as assistant linebackers coach in Houston.

Mitchell joins DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Quinton Dial on the 49ers defensive line. The 49ers view Mitchell as a high-energy player who bring good character to the locker room. The signing of Mitchell could be an indication the 49ers are moving on from Glenn Dorsey, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

With 5.5 sacks in seven seasons, the 49ers do not figure to use Mitchell in passing situations. The club must try to bolster its pass rush in free agency or the draft. Last season, Buckner and Ahmad Brooks shared the team-lead with six sacks apiece. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch both led the way with 6.5 sacks.

 

Source: 49ers agree to four-year deal with former Dolphins DT

Source: 49ers agree to four-year deal with former Dolphins DT

The San Francisco 49ers agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal with defensive tackle Earl Mitchell on Friday, CSNBayArea.com has learned

Mitchell, 29, will earn $5.5 million in his first year with the 49ers. 

The seven-year veteran played in nine games last season for the Dolphins. He recorded 17 total tackles. 

Since entering the league in 2010 as a third-round draft pick with the Texans, Mitchell has appeared in 100 games between Houston and Miami, totaling 206 tackles. He has also recorded 5.5 sacks.