James preparing for active role in 49ers offense

james_lamichael_49ers.jpg

James preparing for active role in 49ers offense

Rookie running back LaMichael James has yet to be active for a game. But both his head coach and general manager intimated he may work his way onto the playing field before the 49ers' regular season is over.

At his Monday press conference, Jim Harbaugh was asked if there’s a game day role for James working with quarterback Colin Kaepernick on read-option plays.

“Yeah, there’s a possibility of that,” Harbaugh said.

It wasn’t part of the plan against the Rams, Harbaugh added. “But that doesn’t mean it won’t be, going forward,” he said.

A few hours after Harbaugh spoke, general manager Trent Baalke gave another plug for James during his weekly radio segment on 95.7, The Game.

"I'd say, it's safe to say that LaMichael is going to start getting his opportunities,” Baalke said. “And (I'm) confident that he'll make the most of them when given the opportunity."

James does not prefer to talk about his playing status. But the Texas native remained polite as a group of reporters asked him about just that Tuesday in front of his locker. Following is what he said during the two-and-a-half minute interview:

Question: What have you been told by coaches, what are the expectations, about when you might play?

LaMichael James: Actually, I have none. I really don’t discuss when I’m going to play. I try to sit back and be a team player go out and practice hard each and every day and continue to get better.

Question: Do you feel like you’re game ready?

LJ: Yeah, I feel like I can go out there and help the team. I prepare for it each and every week, and hopefully I can provide a spark.

Question: You’ve done scout team, kick off and punt returns before in practice. What have you mainly been doing in practice the last two weeks?

LJ: I pretty much do everything. I play a lot of different positions on the scout team. I’m at receiver. I’m at running back. Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m always going to do. I feel like I’m athletic enough to do pretty much anything, so that’s where I’ve been at.

Question: How often were you asked to pass protect at Oregon?

LJ: I was not pass protecting that much. The first time I really just did a lot is when I got here?

Question: How difficult has that process been to learn?

LJ: It wasn’t that bad. You have to go out there and have to [use] effort, put your head in there and see what you can do. It’s not that hard. But obviously I’m outmanned because I’m not 230 pounds. But I feel like I can get the job done if I’m scrappy enough.

Question: When you are watching the games from the sidelines, what are you looking for?

LJ: I just try to look at the holes. I see a lot what Frank [Gore] does and try to imitate him in practice. Obviously, he’s been successful. Just try to read a lot better.  Obviously, I was coming from the spread and not the ‘I’ formation so a lot of things are different so I’m just trying to learn on the go.

Question: Most of the questions you get are “when are you going to play”? Has it gotten old or frustrating in any way?

LJ: Yeah, it has. It’s really frustrating too. I really don’t have time to be answering those questions or hearing about that any more. Obviously I’m here for a reason. I can play. I always feel like that. Whatever the team needs me to do, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m young, I’m still learning. Whatever it takes, wherever it takes me that’s what I’m going to do to get on the field.

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Gerald Hodges is in search of a new team and he's looking at a division rival of the 49ers.

The unrestricted free agent is scheduled to visit the Seahawks on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Acquired in October of 2015 from Minnesota for a sixth-round pick, the four-year pro played in 25 games over the past two seasons with the 49ers.

In his time with San Francisco, the former fourth-round pick recorded three sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

But he was not considered a fit for the new 49ers under general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Hodges was deactivated for a game late in the season at Atlanta for breaking team rules. He did not offer an explanation or apology

The 49ers have signed three linebackers through two weeks of free agency: Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle and Dekoda Watson.

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

On the same day the FBI director announced members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are under investigation for colluding with Russia to influence the election, Trump turned his thoughts to Colin Kaepernick’s status as an NFL free agent.

And Jim Harbaugh, appearing on Pro Football Talk, suggested teams that are not showing interest in Kaepernick are making a mistake.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said Tuesday morning.

“He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”

On Monday evening, during a rally in Kentucky, Trump made remarks about Kaepernick. In the lead-up to the November election, Kaepernick called Trump “openly racist” and said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, either.

“And you know, your San Francisco quarterback? I’m sure nobody ever heard of him,” Trump said.

“There was an article today, it was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that. I said if I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky. Because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported an AFC general manager told him there were three reasons Kaepernick has not signed. Some believe, according to the anonymous source, that Kaepernick can no longer play at a high level. Others “genuinely hate him” for kneeling during the national anthem as part of his protest of racial inequality in America.

And, “some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him,” according to the report. “They think there might be protests or Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.”

Kaepernick’s teammates voted him the winner of the Len Eshmont Award for courage and inspiration last season. It is historically the most prestigious award among 49ers players. But the 49ers have already signed veteran quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

General manager John Lynch acknowledged last week on KNBR the odds of the 49ers bringing back Kaepernick are slim.

“I think the likelihood of that happening has gone down significantly. But we’re not going to close our mind or out options on anyone, including him,” Lynch said.

Even though there has been no reported interest in Kaepernick from any team around the league, Lynch said Kaepernick nearly signed with a team earlier during the free-agent signing period.

“I don’t know what happened to that market,” Lynch said. “He was, in everyone’s mind in this league, very close to signing a deal with a team at a really good number. And it fell through, apparently.”