LaMichael James, be careful what you ask for.
ESPN is reporting that James, a second-year running back from the University of Oregon, asked for and has been granted his release, the team announced. James will now be subject to waivers, or another team will have to claim him. James’ agent Jeff Sperbeck tweeted the news last night.
James had two rushes for no yards against the Dallas Cowboys in the 49er’s 28-17 victory. This performance is indicative of James’ time in San Francisco. James never was able to mesh with the 49ers’ power running game.
James was slowed by an elbow injury during training camp and fell behind fellow running backs Frank Gore and rookie Carlos Hyde, and fell behind rookie Bruce Ellington for punt and kick returns.
Amidst rumors that coach Jim Harbaugh was losing control of the locker room, Harbaugh instituted an open-door policy for players with issues. James talked with coach Harbaugh then, reportedly asking to be released.
“We wish LaMichael well in his career and hope for a long and healthy career for LaMichael James,” Harbaugh said in his Monday news conference. “(We) appreciate his contributions to the 49ers and continue to wish him well.”
The 5-foot-9, 195-pound James, who rushed for 5,082 yards and averaged 6.6 yards per carry in his college career at Oregon.
In 15 career games with the 49ers, James rushed for 184 yards on 41 carries and caught five passes for 45 yards. He did not score a touchdown.
This leaves the 49ers with Gore and Hyde as their running backs. Marcus Lattimore, who is still fighting back from a horrific knee injury while at South Carolina, is on the non-football injury list until after week 6. Even then, there’s no indication Lattimore will be able to contribute, given the severity of his knee injury.
Bleacher Report is reporting that now that James has his release, he may end up regretting it. Though there are teams that could use another back, it would most likely be in a third-string role. Baltimore may want help now that they have cut Ray Rice. Arizona is still having health issues with Andre Ellington, though Ellington played well enough in Monday night’s game against San Diego. There may be one or two other teams who would look to bolster their rosters. Still, any team who gets James would use him in a backup role.
It’s also possible that the Eagles might show interest. Current Eagles coach Chip Kelly was James’ coach at Oregon. But, with LeShon Jackson and Darren Sproles there already, that would be a longshot, too.