Other than probably Jimmy Garoppolo, few players on the 49ers have endeared themselves to the fans more than wide receiver Richie James Jr. Whether it was a kick return two years ago, or a big night against the Packers last year in a game that was 31-3 in the third quarter, scores of fans continue to view James as a hidden gem just waiting for a bigger opportunity.
In today’s Niners Nation Oh Hey There podcast, Javier Vega and Leo Luna questioned whether that should continue to be the case going forward in a segment called Finance, Lease, or Walk-Off.
“We’ve test-driven this car, and we don’t like this car,” Vega said, “I will be walking off the lot. It’s not the right car, not the right anything. It’s over at this point. You’ve had your time. You’ve had opportunities to win a starting role. You had the anomaly game against the Packers. You’re dropping passes. You don’t bring anything in special teams anymore. It’s over.”
It’s hard to argue with that sentiment, even before James couldn’t hang on to the ball on Saturday night (he reportedly had another drop during Tuesday’s practice). He’s played in the NFL for three years and has more fumbles than touchdowns.
The 49ers had a hideous special teams unit last year that featured more giveaways than any other team in the league (4). James led the way on that unit with two turnovers himself. The other two players that contributed in that area are no longer on the roster (Trey Taylor and the infamous Dante Pettis).
Quite frankly, the most notable aspect of his NFL career is the backflip he does after wins.
I know it might be hard for some to take (and I, too, enjoy the backflip), but the time for James to occupy a roster spot on this team has passed. Between Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Trent Sherfield, Jauan Jennings, Mohamed Sanu, and Nsimba Webster, the bar to be a part of the wide receiver room has been raised, and the simple facts say that James doesn’t reach it any longer.
Other topics in the episode
- Why Kyle Shanahan needs to admit there’s a QB competition
- Why Lance’s debut was more impressive than it looked
- Jaquiski Tartt’s uncertain future with the 49ers
- Which defensive rookie’s performance are you buying into?