49ers Mailbag: James' exact role remains a mystery

49ers Mailbag: James' exact role remains a mystery
August 16, 2012, 4:37 pm

Let's go straight to the 49ers' Mailbag . . . Q: How has LaMichael James progressed in camp? Haven't heard a lot of news about him. (@DemilleHunt)
LaMichael James is quick. LaMichael James is fast. But can LaMichael James elude the quicker, faster defensive players he'll face in the NFL?I suspect he can -- certainly not to the level at which he made defenders miss while at Oregon -- but it's difficult to get much of a read on James during practices when there's no tackling allowed.The only thing I've learned about James during training camp is that he appears to be a lot more comfortable fielding punts than I anticipated when the 49ers selected him in the second round of the draft.James is probably the most intriguing of the 49ers' offensive players because of the number of options he gives offensive coordinator Greg Roman. He can line up in the backfield, in the slot or split out wide.I suspect we won't see a whole lot of variety from James during the four exhibition games. After all, the 49ers want to keep the Green Bay Packers guessing about how James will be utilized on Sept. 9 in the season opener at Lambeau Field.
Frankly, I'm of the opinion that Kendall Hunter is still the 49ers' second-best running back. I'm not exactly sure how James fits into the picture this season. But it's almost imperative the 49ers find a way to get the ball into James' hands at least a handful of times. After all, they spent a second-round pick on him for a reason.
Q: Randy Moss, a Pro Bowler this year? (@EmirMetovic)
That would surprise me. No, actually, that would shock me.While Randy Moss has done everything the 49ers have asked of him, beginning when he reported for the 49ers' offseason program, let's not forget he's 35 years old and sat out last season after being unproductive for three different teams in 2010.The way Mario Manningham has played this week at training camp, it's reasonable to think Moss could be the 49ers' third-best wide receiver this season. I certainly do not expect Moss to have a great volume of receptions this season on a team that also features Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Manningham.The 49ers' offensive approach is not going to change this season. Roman and coach Jim Harbaugh want to run the ball. But each game is a different entity. If the 49ers are playing from in front, they're going to run the ball more. If they're playing catch-up, they'll throw.They are not going to morph in to a spread offense and throw the ball around the field on a week-to-week basis because that's not the way they're built. So I expect pass-catchers on other teams will put up better stats and get Pro Bowl recognition.