The San Francisco 49ers almost escaped the preseason without any significant injuries, but in Thursday night’s game running back LaMichael James injured his left knee. The injury won’t require surgery and he will likely be out three to four weeks with a sprained MCL.
The injury to James is a blow to the Niners rushing attack and the special teams. James was third on the depth chart behind Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, but he was expected to be used as a weapon on offense this season. In the four preseason games, he rushed for only 55 yards on 24 carries.
Where the Niners will miss him the most is in the return game. All preseason on the unofficial depth chart released by the 49ers, he was listed as both the kick and punt returner. He did a good job last season returning kickoffs, averaging 29.8 yards per return.
This season, he was going to handle the load on both kick and punt returns. But at least for the first two games of the season receiver Kyle Williams will take over for him on punts, while Quinton Patton or Perrish Cox will likely handle the kickoffs.
Here is a tweet from James about getting injured:
God has a plan for me and will never put me a situation I can’t handle …
— LaMichael James (@LaMichaelJames) August 30, 2013