San Francisco's 2012 second rounder had a mid-June graduation from Oregon, which prevented his full participation this offseason in accordance with NFL regulations. This may not be the worst thing, seeing as how James' focus was narrowed to learning the team's playbook.
He has been fairly removed from the organization until now, which is why we haven't heard a whole lot about James. Maiocco wrote today in his release on CSN Bay Area, "He [James] has yet to meet running back Frank Gore. And he has only communicated with veteran running back Brandon Jacobs via text messages."
In his time away, James had extended time with playbook because he wasn't spending it on the practice field. He was able to absorb a lot of material, which should better enable him to let his physical ability take over on the field. James is a gifted athlete who relies on his physical tools and instincts to break defenses, so knowing the playbook is half the battle.
Luckily, the time has come for him to finally get started; he was among the group of rookies and selected veterans to report to training camp and begin practices as of this past Saturday, July 21st. But even though this is James' first time really getting into it, he feels he's already made strides in his first offseason.
I feel like I've made great progression in that department, getting into the playbook and learning the plays. I've been getting with Colin [Kaepernick] and he's been helping me out. A lot of the quarterbacks and other players are helping me out, bringing me along. [Running backs] coach Tom Rathman is spending extra time with me just to get the playbook down.
James went on to say, "When a player doesn't know what he's doing, he tends to play slow. When you're in the NFL, everybody's fast. You just have to get down the fundamentals of the game so you can go out there and play fast." He doesn't seem to be underestimating the level of competition or ease of the transition from the NCAA to the NFL. Despite being a rookie, the 49ers' LaMichael James is definitely a player to watch in 2012.