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Morning Tailgate: LaMichael James' KR Set up 'W'

Posted Dec 30, 2013

Lost in San Francisco's season-ending win was the final special teams play, which gave the offense less field but more time to work with.

LaMichael James isn't used to going unnoticed.

The 49ers reserve running back/returner is 5-foot-9, sure, but his speed usually garners attention.

Still, it's understandble that James' 41-yard kickoff return in the final minute of San Francisco's season-ending win on Sunday in Arizona was overshadowed by the plays that followed it: Namely, impressive and important catches by wideouts Anquan Boldin and Quinton Patton setting up Phil Dawson's game-clinching field goal.

Understandable, but not unnoticed.

With the score tied at 20, James received Cardinals kicker Jay Feely's boot five yards deep into the end zone and appeared to be headed to the opposite end zone. He would be tripped up at the 49ers 36-yard line, where he let go of the ball.

When the play was reviewed because it occurred with less than two minutes left, there was a question as to whether James was down on the ground before his "fumble."

The play was, technically, reversed, but that San Francisco retained possession. The only change made: Resetting the clock gave Colin Kaepernick and Co. 29 ticks to get down the field and prove victorious.

There would be two seconds left when Dawson kicked the 40-yard game-ender and, without James, who also averaged 15 yards on his three punt returns Sunday, it may not have been possible.

For more storylines surrounding the team, check out this edition of Morning Tailgate links, presented by State Farm.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee moved on the challenge of facing Aaron Rodgers.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News had the news of Carlos Rogers’ potential injury.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com recapped the contributions of Anquan Boldin and Quinton Patton.

CSNBayArea.com looked ahead to the 49ers 2014 schedule.

Bill Williamson of ESPN.com noted offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s growing popularity.

Jim Trotter of SI.com outlined the state of the team as it enters the postseason.





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