Updates from Friday, Aug. 22
CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco has an update on James' status:
LaMichael James has been cleared to play Sunday, one month after the 49ers’ third-year running back sustaining a dislocated right elbow.
James is expected to be the 49ers’ No. 3 running back behind Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde while also serving as a return specialist.
Coach Jim Harbaugh said he believes, “as it stands right now,” James will play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. He will see playing time in the return game, as well as on offense, Harbaugh said.
Updates from Wednesday, July 30
LaMichael James is on track to be ready for the regular season reports Matt Maiocco of csnbayarea.com:
Even by conservative estimates, 49ers running back LaMichael James should be back in time for the regular-season opener on Sept. 7 at the Dallas Cowboys.
"(We) don’t have a timetable on it," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Trainers are predicting, and LaMichael has a shorter amount of time predicted. He’s had the injury before, so we’ll see. I’m hopeful and go with LaMichael’s estimation."
When asked if a realistic time frame is the start of the regular season, Harbaugh answered, "Yes, and, under LaMichael’s estimation, sooner than that."
Training camp injuries are every team's worst nightmare, and it appears the San Francisco 49ers are the newest victim of that fate. Again. At the same position.
Just days after Kendall Hunter tore his ACL, fellow running back LaMichael James went down with an injury that forced him to be carted from the field, per The Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows:
James was just carted off field. Unthinkable two days ago: 49ers suddenly thin at running back.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) July 27, 2014
LaMichael James went down clutching left hand/wrist after blitz pickup vs. Michael Wilhoite. Will monitor whether he returns to practice.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) July 27, 2014
It was later revealed that James dislocated his elbow, via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
#49ers RB LaMichael James was carted off the field today with what I'm told is a dislocated elbow. Second big RB injury to SF— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 27, 2014
Interestingly enough, there's quite a bit of history here. James graphically dislocated his elbow against Cal in 2011, and after that game, he said he had suffered the same injury in high school. He returned a week later during the first instance, and he missed just two games with the Ducks, but this time around, it seems a little more serious.
Rapoport, via NFL.com's Mike Coppinger, cited a source saying James is expected to be miss a month.
With Hunter lost for the season, it looked as though James and rookie Carlos Hyde were the front-runners to back up veteran Frank Gore. The third-year product out of Oregon, who entered camp at a bulkier 208 pounds, according to 49ers.com's Taylor Price, was already starting to create buzz out of camp.
That added strength, along with his breakaway speed and elusiveness, makes him a tantalizing weapon, not just lining up behind the quarterback. He's also a dynamic kick returner, capable of making plays in space.
"There's a lot of things we can do with him," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said of James, via Price. "He's a multi-dimensional player."
While the severity of this injury is unknown, the timing is unequivocally awful with his role assuredly set to increase.
As Bleacher Report's Dan Hope noted, focus now turns toward the second-round pick out of Ohio State:
With Gore set to enter his 10th season (and potentially ninth straight with 200-plus carries), it becomes more important to give him rest as the season wears on.
If James' injury turns out to be serious, it looks like Hyde will be the major factor in getting Gore that rest. The talented youngster's role continues to quickly grow.