Earlier this week, 49ers running back LaMichael James sent out a tweet addressed to "___", stating that his knee was fine and he was ready to play. That got things in a little bit of a tizzy, but it appears he cleared things up with 49ers writer Kevin Lynch.
RT @LaMichaelJames: Hey ____ my knee feels fine I'm ready to play ... >> LaMichael James aimed this comment to his followers, not coaches— Kevin Lynch (@klynch49) September 24, 2013
As the 49ers prepare for the St. Louis Rams, we find ourselves wondering whether or not James will finally be activated. He was inactive the first three weeks, and for the first time this season, he was not on the injury report. Normally that would seem to ensure he would be active this week.
Unfortunately it has never been all that clear what the 49ers intend to do with LaMichael James. Last season he was inactive much of the season, not getting his chance until Kendall Hunter tore his Achilles, and Brandon Jacobs had more or less tweeted his way off the team.
Once James finally got on the field, he showed some flash and athleticism. He was a dynamic weapon at Oregon, and when the 49ers drafted him, I couldn't help but feel excited to see how Greg Roman and company would use him. We waited and waited, but once he did get on the field, he showed flashes of that skill. He did not take over games, but in a limited role, he showed that he could put defenses on their heels.
The 49ers offense has been struggling mightily to figure something out over the last two weeks. Could James provide a needed spark? Although Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter are still going to be the primary running backs in the rotation, this does not mean the 49ers have to ignore the weapon they have in LaMichael James.
They don't need him to be the guy running between the tackles. They could roll him out in a whole assortment of ways, whether it be as a single back or paired up with Gore or Hunter. If the 49ers can establish the run game effectively, what about something like play action to Gore, with James getting out in the flat? The linebackers potentially come crashing in and maybe it opens some space for James to utilize his speed. I'm no offensive mastermind, but I have to think Roman has the creativity to do something with James.
Will we see LaMichael James active for Thursday Night Football? If so, will he make much of an impact?