It’s no secret that San Francisco 49ers RB LaMichael James has been in the dog house since being drafted by the team in the second-round (No. 61) in the 2012 NFL Draft. A player that displayed promise coming out of Oregon, James has never been more than a return specialist since. In two seasons with the team, James has recorded 39 carries for 184 rushing yards and no touchdowns. Not to mention, he only appeared in 14 regular-season games, you can see where James’ frustration stems from.
However, the question remains, will the 49ers release him? It doesn’t make sense to keep him on the bench, having him ride the pine, only to see him disgruntled for yet another season. Instead the 49ers should either trade him for a future 2015 draft pick or a more likely scenario, release him. I have outlined five reasons why James should be shown the door. And while I believe he has the talent to be a starting running back in this league capable of cashing 1,000 yard seasons (rushing and receiving combined), the fact that he’s not being utilized makes no sense for both sides to retain his services. So without further ado, here are my five reasons why James should be released.
1. James wants to play or be released, as he tweeted:
I’d rather they just let me go
— LaMichael James (@LaMichaelJames) January 30, 2014
And who would argue with him? If a team doesn’t play to your strengths what good is it to remain with the team? This is just one of many tweets James voiced his displeasure about, but one that also sticks out the most to me.
2. James absent from voluntary OTAs
Since voluntary OTAs has began one player in particular has been absent, and that’s James. If James really cared about his current standing with the team he would do everything in his power to make the coaching staff have a change of heart. Sure, he had a newborn baby and many people can relate to that. But so did G Alex Boone and T Joe Staley and you don’t see them missing any time. As a coach, you want your players to show dedication, heart, and the competitiveness to compete, is James doing that? Hard to tell if he’s not in camp.
The 49ers clearly have a stable of running backs at their disposal. From RB Frank Gore, RB Marcus Lattimore, RB Kendall Hunter, James, and now RB Carlos Hyde, it’s a numbers game likely signaling the end for James. There is no way the 49ers keep five running backs on their roster, and with Gore, Lattimore, Hunter and Hyde cementing themselves on the depth chart, leaves James as the odd man out.
4. 49ers drafted WR Bruce Ellington in the fourth-round (No. 106)
In an earlier article, I said that James may be pushed out by Ellington. James value is strictly in the return game for San Francisco and with the selection of Ellington, he will have every opportunity to win that spot. Whether fielding kickoffs or punt returns, Ellington is a similar player in terms of H-W-S while doing absolutely nothing to fall out of the 49ers coaching staff’s good graces.
5. James’ lack of dedication
James clearly isolated himself from the rest of the team by not showing up for OTAs. When he comes back, you can be sure everyone will be talking about it. Whether reported or not, players talk. And the 49ers locker room will be no different. An unnecessary distraction, the 49ers will release him when it’s all said and done.