SANTA CLARA -- Running back LaMichael James has been a forgotten man in the 49ers’ backfield.
He is no longer an afterthought, as he moves one spot up the depth chart following Kendall Hunter's season-ending torn ACL.
“I know everybody’s looking at me now,” James said on Saturday. “I’m going to go out and I’m going to work hard.”
James underwent a bit of an attitude readjustment during the offseason. He missed a couple weeks of the 49ers’ offseason program while being dissatisfied with his role in the offense in his first two NFL seasons.
When he reported in the offseason, he devoted all of his energy and attention toward competing for a spot.
“I think my mindset is still pretty much the same,” James said. “I was still treating it like that anyway, go out and competing each and every day. Really just trying to make the team better each and every way I can. That’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
James said he spoke to Hunter at length on Friday night and Saturday morning, and his teammate’s spirits are about as good as can be expected. Hunter was diagnosed with a torn right ACL, an MRI examination revealed after his non-contact injury in practice Friday.
“Kendall is one of my best friends on the team,” James said. “Any time you see someone close to you get hurt like that, it’s kind of depressing. You never want to see that. I’m a little down for him. All the work he did in the offseason, to be out here with us.
“You just got to play for him. That’s the way I look at it. Try to go out there and compete. When I feel like I can’t give any more, I’m going to give a little extra for him, too.”