James preparing for active role in 49ers offense

James preparing for active role in 49ers offense
December 4, 2012, 2:00 pm
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LaMichael James could make his 49ers debut this weekend. (AP)

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.

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