During the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers drafted Oregon running back LaMichael James with the 61st overall pick. James was a running back that had 1,805 rushing yards on 247 attempts with eighteen rushing touchdowns. In my opinion, this pick was a complete surprise. I will break down how LaMichael James will fit in with the San Francisco 49ers and my overall grade on the draft pick made by the San Francisco 49ers.
During his career with the Oregon Ducks, LaMichael James’ biggest strengths were his ability to shuffle and get up into the running lanes to make a break down field and using his speed to be a threat to score whenever he touches the football no matter where his team is on the field. James is going to be able to use these strengths very effectively with the San Francisco 49ers. The San Francisco 49ers already have three quality running backs in Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, and Brandon Jacobs. This means that LaMichael James will not have to play every down of every game and that plays into James’ productivity. I say that because of what LaMichael James brings to the table and that is explosiveness. The San Francisco 49ers will be able to use James in 3rd down situations and in any situation where they need the running back to get them some quality yards. I expect the San Francisco 49ers to use LaMichael James on 3rd down with screens because of his open field speed. The one aspect that sets James apart from the rest of the San Francisco running backs is his tremendous speed, especially in the open field.
One of the biggest weaknesses surrounding LaMichael James entering the 2012 NFL Draft is his fumbling issues due to his elbow injury. This will be a minor issue for James and the San Francisco 49ers. Due to James not being the every-down running back in San Francisco, his fumbling numbers will be fairly low because of how his elbow will feel. I believe that LaMichael James will not take enough heavy hits to where his elbow affects his productivity. Also, by using James with screen plays, the San Francisco 49ers can give James a “running start” to avoid those heavy NFL hits.
Overall, this was a fairly good draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers. I originally had LaMichael James being draft in the late first round by the Detroit Lions to be the every-down running back, but the San Francisco 49ers are going to get the same production from James every game without using him on every down. At first, I was generally surprised to see LaMichael James being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers because of the running backs already on their roster. However, the San Francisco 49ers know exactly what they are getting in LaMichael James and it will be exciting to see him play at the next level.
Overall Pick Grade: B+
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