LaMichael James has had a frustrating start to his NFL career. To no surprise, James' time with the San Francisco 49ers has come to an end after he requested to be released from the team. That request was granted by the 49ers today.
James, arguably one of the greatest players in Oregon history, was selected by the 49ers in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. During his rookie season, James did not see the playing field until December. That month, James played in four games, carrying the ball 27 times for 125 yards. The only touchdown of James' career came against the Falcons during the divisional round on a 15-yard touchdown run.
In all of 2013, James carried the ball just 12 times for 59 yards and no touchdowns. His "biggest" game of the year came against the Texans when he had four carries for 31 yards.
Against Dallas on Sunday, James had just two carries for no yards. It was clear his patience with San Francisco had reached a tipping point, and James wanted out.
James was doomed from the moment he was selected by the 49ers. This was always a classic example of a talented player buried deep within the depth chart. Most recently, James was the third string running back behind Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde. While Gore is aging by NFL running back standards (10 years of experience and over 2,200 carries), there's no telling if James would see more playing time once Gore was gone.
In my personal opinion, James is a talented running back that hasn't gotten a shot to prove what he's capable of. Now that he's free from the prison that is the 49ers depth chart at running back, hopefully he gets another shot with a team in need of a running back. I don't think he's done enough to be instant starter material, but maybe he can at least find a team to start out as a reliable backup and work his way to a starting role.