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Jim Harbaugh remembers how hard LaMichael James was to stop

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In Jim Harbaugh’s time as coach at Stanford, few opposing players impressed him more than Oregon running back LaMichael James. In 2009 James had 233 total combined yards rushing, receiving and returning kicks against Stanford, and in 2010 James had 257 rushing yards against Stanford. So it’s no surprise that Harbaugh decided that in the NFL, he’d rather coach James than coach against him.

After the 49ers drafted James in the second round on Friday night, Harbaugh said he remembers just how tough it was to stop James.

I have a memory like an elephant,” Harbaugh said. “I never forget.”

James was known for breaking long runs in college, but he also had a five-yard touchdown run and a three-yard touchdown run against Stanford, and those are the plays that really impressed Harbaugh.

“Just the unstoppable nature of him at the goal line,” Harbaugh said. “You could not stop that team once they got inside the 5-yard line.”

San Francisco has a crowded backfield with Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, the newly signed Brandon Jacobs and now James, but James says he’ll find a way to contribute.

“I plan to do everything,” James said. “Return balls, run down on kickoffs, whatever the team needs me to do that’s what I’m going to do.”

Harbaugh knows all too well that James can find a lot of ways to help a team win.

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41 Responses to “Jim Harbaugh remembers how hard LaMichael James was to stop”
  1. jdandcoke says: Apr 28, 2012 7:01 AM

    this team still has alex smith at qb, right?

  2. geniusesq says: Apr 28, 2012 7:02 AM

    James is a monster. Great pick.

  3. joetoronto says: Apr 28, 2012 7:04 AM

    “I have the maturity of a newborn baby elephant,” Harbaugh said.

  4. staffordsyear says: Apr 28, 2012 7:24 AM

    Ya like i said,good pickup for the niners ala jahvid best.I like this pick for their offense..they need some playmakers..now if jahvid can stay healthy week 2 sunday nighter is gonna be some must see tv!

  5. coachryanmurray says: Apr 28, 2012 7:34 AM

    I understand that Coach Harbaugh has earned the benefit of the doubt from last year’s draft, but I’m not so sure about their current draft class.

  6. thegonz13 says: Apr 28, 2012 7:37 AM

    Quality value pick for S.F.

  7. worldwidebleater says: Apr 28, 2012 7:38 AM

    At the end of the interview, Harbaugh cut off his nipples with tin snips to show everyone how tough he is.

  8. kingfish4242 says: Apr 28, 2012 7:44 AM

    As a Saints fan I hate to say this,but the Niners got a steal here. Our local draft analyst Mike Detillier said James reminded him a lot of current Saints Rb. Darren Sproles.

  9. kingfish4242 says: Apr 28, 2012 7:49 AM

    I will also say the Niners are looking towards the future and doing a good job. Imo, you fill needs in FA and use the draft to build your long term future. Gore is still a great Rb,but he’s also taken a ton of hits the last few years. Bill Parcells likes to say there is only so much thread on those tires. You have to ask how much longer can he last?

  10. garza0080 says: Apr 28, 2012 8:04 AM

    Great pick, this guy going to help us win right away, and if your any kind of NFL fan you should know if Alex Smith is the QB… LMJ is going to be a great weapon to have on the team and I think he can possibly win rookie of the year.

  11. ceadderman says: Apr 28, 2012 8:04 AM

    Forgot to mention Anthony Dixon. I know he’s an afterthought for many people but he is still part of the team and a Running Back right? ;)

  12. garza0080 says: Apr 28, 2012 8:07 AM

    This was an explosive pick!

  13. east96st says: Apr 28, 2012 8:19 AM

    Brandon, you don’t realize it yet, but you just got pushed out of SF. Because you, you CAN be stopped at the goal line.

  14. nivlek81 says: Apr 28, 2012 8:22 AM

    @ jdandcoke: oh you mean the Alex Smith that helped the team to a 13-3 record and a NFC championship game?

  15. jc1958cool says: Apr 28, 2012 8:50 AM

    that guy killed the badgers, i know thier defense was not good but that guy can fly!

  16. jdandcoke says: Apr 28, 2012 9:39 AM

    @ jdandcoke: oh you mean the Alex Smith that helped the team to a 13-3 record and a NFC championship game?

    yup, the same guy who was basically a no-show vs my giants in that game you alluded to. if the giants had even ONE legit o-tackle last year it never would have been that close.

  17. naptown49r says: Apr 28, 2012 9:40 AM

    I have only 4 words to say…
    What Are We Doing?

  18. kingfish4242 says: Apr 28, 2012 9:41 AM

    nivlek81 says:
    Apr 28, 2012 8:22 AM
    @ jdandcoke: oh you mean the Alex Smith that helped the team to a 13-3 record and a NFC championship game?

    ================================

    Agreed,but at the same time I’ll say the Niners should start looking for a young prospect that can push Smith. Kellen Moore is still out there and I think SF would be a great fit. Please don’t take the following as flaming,but I don’t believe Smith will be anything more than a game manager the rest of his career. The Packers without question took the better Qb in that draft class. Teams like the Ravens and Niners have proven you can win with game managing Qb’s. The real question is can you win a championship with one. The jury is still out on Flacco and Smith.

    I know Smith beat the Saints with a last minute drive. A huge part of that was Greg Williams calling an all out blitz and leaving Vernon Davis single covered by a safety. All any Qb has to do in that situation is lead davis and he’ll use his athletic ability to beat and outrun any safety in the league. Once again, I’m not saying Smith can’t get to the next level. he has some weapons now, so we’ll get a good idea how well he reacts this season.

  19. naptown49r says: Apr 28, 2012 9:49 AM

    If we can use him like darren sproles then this pick might be worth the risk…ok now I can chill out giving my 2cents on the 9rs draft picks. They know what they’re doing

  20. skeebo80 says: Apr 28, 2012 9:49 AM

    James is a great pick up!can help now and be the future. Only thing is this pick may spell the end for for some guys after this season

  21. franknunley57 says: Apr 28, 2012 10:13 AM

    kingfish4242:

    you do know they drafted a qb in the 2nd round last year and signed fa josh johnson this off season…..right?

  22. tdrundmc says: Apr 28, 2012 10:14 AM

    kingfish4242 says:
    Apr 28, 2012 7:44 AM
    As a Saints fan I hate to say this,but the Niners got a steal here. Our local draft analyst Mike Detillier said James reminded him a lot of current Saints Rb. Darren Sproles.

    Well if Mike Detillier says so…too bad Mike knows diddly poo.

  23. steviep23 says: Apr 28, 2012 10:20 AM

    @jdandcoke

    Do you realize smith’s best receiver last year was Michael Crabtree. Let me repeat that. The # 1 was Crabtree. Now with moss, manningham, and Jenkins. Smith will have a great year and everyone who’s scared of the niners can’t just point the finger @ Smith anymore.

  24. jenniferxxx says: Apr 28, 2012 10:21 AM

    Brandon Jacobs volunteered to meet him at the airport and drive him back to the team facility.

  25. sisqsage says: Apr 28, 2012 10:23 AM

    Some of you guys didn’t get the memo.
    A few points:
    1. Best is toast in DET with too many concussions.
    2. With all the RBs the Niners have now, Dixon’s only role is as a special teams player, if he survives the final cuts at all. He was terrible as a ballcarrier during the season anyway (3.0 yds per carry).
    3. Alex Smith will have plenty of competition from Kap and the QB they signed from Tampa. Tolzien has potential too.

  26. nineroutsider says: Apr 28, 2012 10:29 AM

    @jdandcoke says:Apr 28, 2012 9:39 AM

    jdandcoke: oh you mean the Alex Smith that helped the team to a 13-3 record and a NFC championship game?

    yup, the same guy who was basically a no-show vs my giants in that game you alluded to. if the giants had even ONE legit o-tackle last year it never would have been that close.
    —————————————————
    I’m not going to play the would’ve, should’ve game but the 9ers O didn’t show up the 2nd half of that game (not just Smith, they all had a bad half) or you’re right it never would have been that close. They rolled out 1 legitimate WR in that game a bunch of practice squad guys. Congrats on winning the game and the Super Bowl, but the Giants were a .500 team that got very hot so don’t act like they were world beaters that the 9ers were lucky to beat while not scoring a 2nd half point. The 9ers played them extremely tough while very short-handed and we all know who really won that game for the G-Men, twice. Like I said, very short-handed and still put up a great fight. Besides winning, I’m not sure Giants fans can come troll 9er posts and tell us that it should’ve never been that close and the Giants are a vastly superior team becasue they aren’t. Laregely full strength, they got about as much as they could handle from a team that was very short-handed. We will have to see how 2012 shakes out, but I really like our chances. Congrats again on winning, no hard feelings here, but don’t be delusional about that win. I don’t mind a little trolling for gloating purposes, but don’t be delusional about it…

  27. lionsfan415 says: Apr 28, 2012 10:38 AM

    Hopefully the 49ers cut gore and the lions pick him up

  28. rayguyreturns says: Apr 28, 2012 10:54 AM

    James is a steal. Would love to have him play for my team anytime. He’ll be fun to watch.

  29. ceadderman says: Apr 28, 2012 10:59 AM

    jdandcoke… First off you ignorant NY flunky it’s JACK N COKE.

    Second you say Smith was a no show? You better go look at the stats again. He and Eli posted the same numbers. The only difference is that Eli had Receivers to catch the ball and Alex didn’t.

    Come back when you and the entire Smurf fan base gain about a million IQ points. If you’re gonna talk smack at least talk INFORMED smack. Fool.

  30. billb49 says: Apr 28, 2012 11:10 AM

    @ jdandcoke, please stop pretending the Giants were anything other than lucky in their championship game with the Niners. If not for two fumbles by the same player and a horrible call on your runners fumble, the Giants go home and you know it. And this was against a Niners team that had basically one receiver producing – their tight end.

    The Giants won the game fair and square. I give them their due. But please lose the NY attitude about this game. You and I and the rest of the NFL knows damn good and well that they got lucky and the Niners gave it to them. The Giants will see the Niners again this year. The Niners will have the same defense and a bunch of new speed and explosiveness on offense. We’ll see what happens.

  31. brooklynniner19 says: Apr 28, 2012 11:11 AM

    @jdandcoke yeah the Same Alex Smith that out played Drew Brees and their high power offense. To your comment about Alex SMith being a “no show”, well when you only have one target(Vernon Davis) its kinda hard to get your stats up. He didnt lose the game but he didnt win it either. Once again 49ers only lost because of Ky;e Williams a BACKUP PR!!! Alex Smith will excel tremendously this year. P.s. Did you forget 49ers now have Moss and Manningham to complete the offesive arsenal !! 49ers NFC WEST CHAMPS!

  32. skolvikesskol says: Apr 28, 2012 11:48 AM

    I like the moves. Jh is creating depth and competition where there was none. Now they r prepped for the future and are guarded against injury… Next uear they can do the same for d or go qb… Honestly tho… Smith seems good, but id like to see hum light it up a little mire often this yr.

  33. steelymcbeam6 says: Apr 28, 2012 12:12 PM

    I think some Niner fans haven’t taken a good look at their schedule this year. Yes you guys had a good year last year BUT your schedule was incredibly friendly. All your tough opponents were played at home. Not the case this year. Week 1 @packers, week 4 @jets (not a great team but still tough place to play and across the country trip) week 12 @saints and week 15 @patriots. Not to mention your division won’t be as easy… Rams and cards are both going to better teams. I’m not saying you’ll have a bad year but Niner fans need to stop acting like they are an elite team after one successful year in almost a decade (before last year their last playoff appearance was 2002!)

  34. funkylovemonkey says: Apr 28, 2012 12:51 PM

    I like this pick a lot. Whether it turns out or not, it shows the 49ers are looking to the future. I found it interesting that most analysts were quick to talk about how the 49ers needed to add depth to their defensive line because it’s getting a little older but nobody was talking about Gore.

    Now, first of all I’m a huge fan of Gore and I like Hunter. However, Gore definitely lost a step as the season progressed and Hunter I don’t feel really proved he could take up the slack. After Gore got injured before the regular season Giants game Gore did not have a single game where he broke 100 yards. He just wasn’t the same guy. Maybe after the offseason he will get back to his old self, but I think it’s obvious that Gore is on the backside of his career and I’m glad the 49ers are addressing it. Sure that means they have a ridiculous number of running backs right now, but hopefully one of them will rise to the top in the next season to take over for Gore when he does retire in a couple years.

  35. 49ersallday says: Apr 28, 2012 1:07 PM

    steelymcbeam6 says:
    Apr 28, 2012 12:12 PM
    I think some Niner fans haven’t taken a good look at their schedule this year. Yes you guys had a good year last year BUT your schedule was incredibly friendly. All your tough opponents were played at home. Not the case this year. Week 1 @packers, week 4 @jets (not a great team but still tough place to play and across the country trip) week 12 @saints and week 15 @patriots. Not to mention your division won’t be as easy… Rams and cards are both going to better teams. I’m not saying you’ll have a bad year but Niner fans need to stop acting like they are an elite team after one successful year in almost a decade (before last year their last playoff appearance was 2002!)

    i love how we are the most hated team in the league now that we are good , which rests my case! typical haters! the nfc west beat the new orlean saints in the playoffs 2 years in a row, the nfc west is alot harder than the broncos raiders cheifs and chargers division, seriously when was the last time any of those teams did anything, and the niners schedule? lets see the steelers theravens giants broncos lions eagles in the season and they were all playoff teams oh i forgot u must be a steeler, the team that got stomped by the niners, take any qb in the league and give them the niners offense and see if they could go 13 – 3 and get jipped out of the nfc chmpinship, the kyle williams fumble twice, bradshaw fumbling the ball and we didnt get the call, dashon goldson trying to steal an interception from his own teamate twice and dropping the ball and inuring his teammate so ur full of ish if u think we dont derserve to be there, oh yeah btw prerankings on espn 49ers number 1 , so u think ur smarter than espn?

  36. chargerzz says: Apr 28, 2012 1:12 PM

    I think he could be the best rb in the draft surprised he wasn’t drafted 1st round

  37. ceadderman says: Apr 28, 2012 6:06 PM

    steelymcbeam says incredibly friendly…

    How the hell so? Didn’t play but ONE Division opponent the whole first half. Then flew to Detroit where they ENDED that Playoff team’s Win streak.

    They played Cincinatti and Ended theirs too.
    Oh correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t Natti a playoff team too?

    Come from behind Win against the HEAVILY favored Igglets.

    Beat the Skins in THEIR digs.
    Beat the Giants at the Stick. Yeah we can debate on the friendly schedule there I guess. But they basically beat Manning up and down the field like the proverbial Redheaded stepchild in both games.

    In fact the 9ers played a very TOUGH schedule last year. They lost how many games on the Road? Two? The Cards are no joke at Home and the 9ers went in there full of themselves. They had the game in hand and let it escape in the 2nd Half.

    How many Playoff teams did the 9ers play last year? Ravens across country on 3 days rest? If that’s an easy schedule… O_o

  38. sixjak says: Apr 29, 2012 3:01 AM

    @ jdandcoke: oh you mean the Alex Smith that helped the team to a 13-3 record and a NFC championship game?

    yup, the same guy who was basically a no-show vs my giants in that game you alluded to. if the giants had even ONE legit o-tackle last year it never would have been that close.

    __________________

    O RLY? you guys had a bit of luck in that game. Both these teams at full strength is a game that 6x’s out of 10, is going to go the 9ers way. Stop acting like that game should have been a blowout. if we would have had even a healthy Ginn, the game would have more than likely gone the 9ers way. Nevertheless congrats on ur team’s win and eventual SB victory. Just stop acting like a tool….umkay?

  39. kingfish4242 says: Apr 29, 2012 9:11 AM

    sixjak says:
    Apr 29, 2012 3:01 AM
    @ jdandcoke: oh you mean the Alex Smith that helped the team to a 13-3 record and a NFC championship game?

    yup, the same guy who was basically a no-show vs my giants in that game you alluded to. if the giants had even ONE legit o-tackle last year it never would have been that close.

    __________________

    O RLY? you guys had a bit of luck in that game. Both these teams at full strength is a game that 6x’s out of 10, is going to go the 9ers way. Stop acting like that game should have been a blowout. if we would have had even a healthy Ginn, the game would have more than likely gone the 9ers way. Nevertheless congrats on ur team’s win and eventual SB victory. Just stop acting like a tool….umkay?

    ===============================

    Very good post. Luck plays a huge factor for the eventual SB champion in todays era. The days of the 60′s Packers,70′s Steelers,80′s Niners and early 90′s Cowboys playing the regular season on their way to their eventual coronation are long gone. If anyone says luck doesn’t play a factor,they are being a blind homer and have a closed mind. Sometimes they need help from other teams. Here are a few examples off the top of my head.

    2011 Giants- if that punt doesn’t hit Williams in the knee,the Giants probably lose. The Bradshaw non fumble call can be added too. , they lose the SB if Welker makes that catch. Heck, the Pats don’t even make it if Lee Evans doesn’t drop that endzone catch in the AFCCG

    2010 Packers- The Giants 2nd half choke against the Eagles in NY. The winning score wouldn’t have happened if they had just kicked away from Desean jackson. Had the Giants won that game,the Packers don’t make the playoffs. Like the Giants this year,they got hot at the right time.

    2009 Saints- Mn. having 12 men in the huddle the play before Favre throws the Int. to Porter. AP in the same game fumbling the ball untouched on the Saints 4 yd line. He would have scored easily had he held onto the ball. If those plays don’t happen,the Saints lose and the Vikes play in the SB.

    2008 Steelers- Shoddy Tackling attempts on James Harrisons 95 yd Int return before half. Had Larry Fitzgerald not been knocked out of bounds by his own teammate,he easily runs down Harrison,makes the tackle, prevents the score and the clock runs out.

    2007 Giants- What more can be said about David Tyree’s catch? Asante Samuel also let a game winning INT go through his hands a few plays before. If Asante makes that pick,the heroic catch by Tyree never happens. The Pats then run the clock out and complete a 19-0 season.

    I could go on and on,but I think I made my point. The Giants have 2 rings in the last 5 years. Had 2 plays went the other way,they are 0-2 and Eli faces the ?. can he ever win the big one? of course it wouldn’t be fair,but the difference between a Sb champion and a also ran is >.< this close in todays era.

  40. peter6riffin says: Apr 30, 2012 12:47 AM

    Damn…can the NFL season start already

  41. loungefly74 says: Apr 30, 2012 12:36 PM

    @steelymcbeam6,

    you may be correct about the schedule strength…but(as a Niner fan) the minimum that needs to be done is win the division. we have a very good shot of doing that. also, last year’s schedule was not the cake-walk you make it out to be….

    about the actual article…hey, good to have another RB with great potential. It’s very possible within 2 years the 49ers running attack will be spearheaded by hunter & james (with gore too old and jacobs gone/cut/retired). harbaugh knows ya gotta have a consistent running game.

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