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49ers 90-in-90: WR Richie James

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Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today is wide receiver Richie James.

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Richie James was drafted in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL draft from Middle Tennessee State. Despite only playing two full college seasons, James left Middle Tennessee as their all-time leader in receiving yards (3,261) and receiving touchdowns (23) and showed enough to tempt the San Francisco 49ers brass into bringing his electric playmaking ability to the Bay.

His first season with the Niners, James finished with nine receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown. His real impact was on special teams, where James averaged over 25 yards per kick return, including a memorable 97-yard touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks Week 15.

Basic Info

Age: 23 (turns 24 on September 5)

Experience: One accrued season

Height: 5’9

Weight: 185 pounds

Cap Status

Richie James signed a four-year contract worth $2,536,572. His cap number for 2019 is $589,143. If the 49ers were to release him this season, there would be $19,143 in dead money.

What to expect in 2019

The 49ers will give James every opportunity to make the roster. He has the big-play ability that you want, as evidenced by his kick return above. Kyle Shanahan is the perfect play-caller to take advantage of James’ skills. He can use him in the slot to create mismatches in the slot against linebackers and safeties. James could even be used out of the backfield or in motion to create chaos. I could see James being an asset on play-action.

Odds on making the roster

The addition of Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd, and Jordan Matthews will make it difficult for James to make the roster this season. James will need to become even more of a threat as a returner to ensure he makes the roster. Last season he played on the punt and kick coverage teams. Doing a bit of everything will increase his chances of making the 49ers as well. If he can turn into Raheem Mostert part 2,” where James proves to be so valuable on Special Teams the team cannot move on from him, he’ll make the team.

He’ll need to be more consistent as a receiver. Make plays through contact. That’s something he struggled in a couple of practices at minicamp. It seemed like whenever someone got a hand on him, that was enough to cause a drop.