Second-year running back
Despite his absence in the lineup, James remains in the team’s plans.
“There’s going to come a time like last year where he’s fully in the mix and that time will come again,” Jim Harbaugh said on Monday, a day after San Francisco’s 32-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
James, who was hampered by a knee injury in the team’s preseason finale, is fifth on the 49ers with seven rushing attempts in 2013. James has picked up 31 yards on those carries with the longest run being an 11-yard gain.
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James has played in just two games this season. Harbaugh said it has more to do with the team deciding between having three or four active running backs on gameday. The 49ers have kept
It’s not a concern to Harbaugh, who has spoken privately with James about his future with the team.
“His development has been fine,” the 49ers coach said of James. “He’ll be back playing. I know the talk about insurance and etcetera. It’s no slight to LaMichael. LaMichael’s a very good player. He’s a very valuable member of our team.”
Harbaugh also said James remains an option in the return game. James has returned one kick-off in 2013 for a 29-yard gain.
James enjoyed a breakout role as a kick return man and third-down running back in the final weeks of his rookie season. James totaled 190 rushing yards on 38 carries in the regular season and postseason combined.
Harbaugh doesn’t see any reason why James can’t impact the 49ers in a similar fashion.
“He’s a valued guy around here and has a big role for our football team,” Harbaugh added.