Well color me speechless, again. I had to sit and soak that one in. I didn't foresee us taking another smaller RB after the Kendall Hunter pick last year. I've read some things, got some ideas, so here's my "settled-down" thoughts on the pick.
Obviously the 49ers feel that Hunter can carry the load between the tackles. Brandon Jacobs isn't young and isn't signed beyond 2012. Anthony Dixon likely wont survive the roster cuts now that LaMichael James has been added (unless he beats out the aforementioned Jacobs). Heck, even special teamer Rock Cartwright is technically a RB and has done well when called upon in limited duty.
James gives the 49ers the ability to move a guy all around the formation. He could replace Ted Ginn altogether, actually. He can go in motion and run the fly sweep. He can return kicks and punts. He can line up as a receiver much like Darren Sproles does for New Orleans.
He's the utility player a mad-scientist like Greg Roman can use in the most unpredictable ways. I don't have any doubt that we'll start seeing James on the field, heck, maybe even with Frank Gore AND Hunter at the same time. Put Vernon Davis and a wide receiver like A.J. Jenkins on the field and just who do you defend? All of them are shifty and many of them have power. A mismatch waiting to happen.
After the jump, some scouting on James.
Here's what NFP had to say about James...click here for the whole report.
- Looked more solidly built in 2011 compared to years past. Coaches say he added about 20-pounds to his 5-9 frame and looked more stable/compact because of it.
- Exhibits impressive fluidity and foot quickness when asked to pick this way through the line of scrimmage inside.
- Showcases the balance/lateral agility to quickly side step defenders, hit the cut back lane and accelerate quickly into the open field.
- Possesses a good feel for defenders around him, displaying natural vision inside and finding lanes quickly to get into daylight.
- Makes himself small inside when asked to finish his run. Will slither his way for additional yards with a low pad level both inside and out.
- Demonstrates a wide running base where he keeps his knees bent and is quickly able to change directions and reach top end speed.
- Looks natural catching the football out of the backfield as well. Extends his arms, feels the screen game and balances himself quickly after the catch.
- Exhibits the balance/fluidity to make defenders miss in the open field even at top end speed and create yards in space.
- Is patient in pass protection. Is a tough kid, who takes proper angles and is balanced dropping his pad level and chopping down blitzing defenders on contact.
- Has experience/production on special teams as a punt return man.
- Exhibits solid top end speed for his size, looks like a mid/high 4.4 guy once he gets into daylight.
- Has been one of the most productive backs in the country over the past three seasons.
- Is a tough kid who can play through pain at a high level.
Those are just the positives, but you can see that potential is there to be a playmaker everywhere. In other news...a punter just went in the third round. Cal's Bryan Anger. Bizarro World.
Fooch's Note: How about 27 minutes of career highlights?