Nobody understands the damage that LaMichael James can do with the ball in his hands better than Jim Harbaugh.
When Harbaugh's Stanford Cardinal took on the Oregon Ducks in 2010, James posted a ridiculous 257 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.
“I’ve seen him play up close,” Harbaugh said soon after his San Francisco 49ers drafted James on April 27th, according to The Oregonian. “I’ve seen all the things he can do and lost games to his team, large degree of his efforts…I’m really excited to have him on our team.”
If there was one thing the 49ers offense could have used last season, it was speed. That was clearly a point of emphasis in their 2012 draft, as James will be joined by a fellow rookie speedster in wide receiver A.J. Jenkins of Illinois.
So far, James is having no problem easing into Harbaugh's fast-paced practices.
"I went to Oregon," James told The Oregonian, "so everything's quick-paced at Oregon and I'm pretty used to the tempo."
Some are speculating that James' electrifying speed, quickness, and play-making ability could even change the 49ers' offense.
San Francisco's acquisition of Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, and A.J. Jenkins will open up their offense and likely allow Alex Smith to take more snaps out of the shotgun in spread formations. James' experience in a spread offense at Oregon means he should see plenty of carries out of these open formations.
James will also likely be a viable third down option. Though he did not catch a lot of passes at Oregon, he has solid hands and is a capable pass protector. On top of that, James has been returning kickoffs and punts in practice.
After watching him torment his Stanford defense in 2010, I doubt Harbaugh will waste time getting James the ball during his upcoming rookie season.
Between spread formation carries, third down looks and repetitions in the return game, look for James to make an instant impact in 2012.