Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

LaMicheal James Questions His Role in 49ers Offense on Twitter

In just three tweets today, San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James may have punched his ticket off the Niners roster. On Thursday, James tweeted “thanks but don’t count on it lol” in response to a fan tweeting he “deserves a bigger role in the offense next year!!!”

James has a history of complaining on Twitter about his role in the 49ers offense. Back in October, the Niners running back tweeted, “I don’t work at State Farm I’m not trying to be insurance.” That tweet was deleted, but it was clear he was talking about his role at the time in the offense. For the first three games of the season, James was inactive because of a sprained knee ligament. He was only active for ten games in the regular season and all three of the playoff games. However, his expanded role was not with the offense, but on special teams as a returner. And it came in the second-half of the season. He finished with 23 punt returns for 251 punt return yards and 12 kickoff returns for 321 kickoff return yards. While only accumulating 59 rushing yards on 12 carries and two receptions for 16 yards as a running back. A couple of hours after James’ first tweet on Thursday, he followed up with:


Twenty minutes later, James wanted to be clear what he was talking about and that it was him who sent out the tweets:


One of the reasons James saw limited action with the offense this past season was because of amount of running backs on the depth chart ahead of him, Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. But James is smart and he sees the writing on the wall. With Gore, Hunter and the highly touted Marcus Lattimore joining the mix in 2014, James’ options will be limited unless someone gets hurt. Plus, the Niners will almost certainly add another RB either through free agency or the draft.

All of this reminds me of Brandon Jacobs who complained about his non-playing time in the 2012 season he spent in San Francisco. Jacobs was not active for most of the season, and after he complained the 49ers cut him loose. So James should be cautious about complaining in the future because the 49ers could waive him. Although, maybe that’s James’ plan, to be released and picked up by another team where he can a have a bigger offensive role.

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  • loverpoint

    It is one thing to whine and complain about everything but in this instance I agree with James 100%.
    James was the only glimmer of hope in the 2012 draft.
    James came to the team a few weeks late because he had to wait for Oregons graduation to take place.

    When James came to the team Frank Gore was excited and complimented James on his running ability. When Greg Roman was asked about James he said; ” I can’t wait till he joins the team, I’ve been working on a bunch of plays specifically designed for LaMichael and know of his many talents to break a game and score from anywhere on the field.

    Well the 49ers made the very big mistake of MOTHBALLING the whole 2012 draft class, especially James. All that talk from Roman was him blowing smoked, he never had any specialty plays designed for James otherwise you would have seen a few of them occasionally, why not ?

    For the few times we saw James it seemed like he was the perfect fit for the READ OPTION type of offense , I happen to think James would be a very dangerous player used like Darren Sproles, or Wes Welker has been in his career. James is a very good open field runner who would be great as a Flanker who can run end arounds , short swing passes and short slants over the middle.

    As a running back in college he excelled in hiding behind big linemen and finding hole to run through or in some cases he would reverse field, in the NFL those holes are not always there and reversing field is not as easy and that is why they need to throw to him. Once he is 5 yards down field he is difficult to tackle.

    The sad reason why the 49ers do not throw to their running-backs is probably because it does not exist in Romans play book. This topic has come up time after time and fans have heard various excuses from Smith or Kaepernick could not make that kind of pass, or the offensive linemen were to slow and cumbersome. We know that Smith and Kaepernick can make the throw because Smith is putting up good numbers throwing primarily to his running backs. If Roman/Harbaugh/Baalke can’t find something to do with James then the people need to wonder why they drafted him in the first place, and they need to be really concerned about Marcus Lattimore because so far he and James are getting off to the same kind of start in SF, only James has not had the injuries that. Gore, Hunter, and Lattimore have had in college or the NFL.

    I think James will find a new role when in the next couple years Gore will be gone, maybe this year to save CAP ROOM MONEY, maybe Hunter has not come back from his injury. I think the future will be with Lattimore & James.

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  • Patrick Lanigan

    History is not in James’ favor. Guys who publicly complain about playing time don’t tend to last long around here, and when LMJ decides to model his attitude after Brandon Jacobs rather than Frank Gore, you have to question his judgment.

    Frankly, I think LMJ is just too small to play in this offense. To play RB for the Niners you have to be able to run inside, and that’s not his forte. To be able to play ANYWHERE in today’s NFL you have to be able to step up in pass protection, and that’s where James’ size becomes a major factor. He’s just not big enough to be an effective blocker in the pass game–and this is where he is nothing at all like Darren Sproles, who has a lot more strength.

    If the Niners do what I expect (draft a speedster at WR) I can see James’ role being even more diminished. A guy like Marquise Lee can not only come in and help immediately on offense, but he can take over all of James’ responsibilities on special teams. Look for James to be traded this offseason. Perhaps Chip Kelly would like a reunion….