Earlier this morning, Matt Barrows reported that 49ers running back LaMichael James suffered a sprained MCL in the 49ers Thursday win over the San Diego Chargers. We now have an updated timeline courtesy of Matt Maiocco:
49ers RB LaMichael James (left knee) is expected to miss three weeks.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) August 30, 2013
Matt Barrows is reporting it as a potential Grade 2 sprain that requires 3-4 weeks of recovery. I'm not sure that is the proper terminology as a Grade 2 sprain usually indicates more of a tear. Either way, it seems like 3-4 weeks is the basic timetable.
If the three to four week timetable proves correct, that means he would miss the 49ers first three weeks against the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams. That first stretch is as tough a three-game set as the 49ers will face all year, and the Rams in St. Louis are no slouch. His athleticism will be missed. He has had his ups and downs in the preseason, but in a specific role where the 49ers get him out in space, there is plenty to be gained from having LaMichael James on the field.
His absence means the 49ers will need to adjust their running back depth chart. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter will continue to lead the way. After that, Anthony Dixon would be the third back, unless the team decided to keep Jewel Hampton for the short term. the 49ers have until 3 p.m. PT Saturday afternoon to make a decision with regard to Hampton. I think they'll stick with Gore, Hunter and Dixon, but this does at least raise the possibility Hampton sticks around.