LaMichael James wants to be more than a kick returner


Part of the reason that running back LaMichael James missed the first month of 49ers offseason workouts this year was because he became a father for the first time, but there were also football reasons for his absence.

James admits to frustration about his role on the team, which has largely been limited to returning kicks and punts over his first two seasons. James said he’s happy to keep returning kicks and wants to be one of the league’s best in those roles, but that he also wants a chance to earn a bigger profile on offense.

“It’s nothing against our running backs,” James said, via “I think Frank [Gore’s} the best, and I think Kendall [Hunter] is super-good, too. It’s nothing against them. But with that being said, am I supposed to be happy just returning kicks and catching punts? No, not really. I’m a competitor. I want to go out and compete. Whatever it is, catching some passes, whatever. I want to play running back, too. I feel I can do it at the highest level. That’s the only thing that frustrates me.”

Gore, Hunter and James are joined by Carlos Hyde and Marcus Lattimore in a crowded San Francisco backfield, so James’ attempt for more playing time may be a long shot. He says he won’t pout if he’s given the chance and beaten out by other players, although it’s hard to feel that he won’t feel the desire to try his luck with another team given the 49ers’ reticence about expanding his portfolio.