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.