James forced to learn unfamiliar concept: Huddling up

August 2, 2012, 8:30 pm
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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.