LANDOVER, Md. – The 49ers offense needed a spark and
The second-year running back was solid in the return game on “Monday Night Football.” Chalk it up to James being unafraid to play on the big stage.
“I’m going to compete and try to help my team win,” James said after his big contributions, 125 total return yards, were key moments in the 49ers win.
“The only thing I was trying to do was get the ball to the offense in great field position.”
James did that by showcasing big kick and punt returns in San Francisco’s 27-6 win over the Washington Redskins.
“Great to see some big plays there,” Jim Harbaugh said after the 49ers ended a two-game losing streak.
James averaged 26.5 yards on kick returns and added 14.4 yards per return for his punt return duties.
Not only was it the team’s longest of the year by 18 yards, it set up a 1-yard
So what allowed James to be so athletic while running down the sideline?
“Ballerina… ballet class,” James said. “No, I’m just kidding.”
Although James was such a factor in Monday’s win, he’s still lamenting a muffed punt in the fourth quarter. Washington’s windy conditions had James misplay his last punt attempts of the night. James ran under the football, muffed it, but was quickly able to recover the ball.
The perfectionist in James fixated on that play much more than the 40-yard return.
“The only thing I can think about is muffing the ball,” he said. “That’s on me.”
Even so, James’ big night is the start of better things to come.
“I feel like I’m going to break one soon,” he said.
For now, James can take pride in restoring San Francisco’s return game.
“It was great to remind everyone we have a return game,” Harbaugh said.