49ers Mailbag: When will James contribute?


49ers Mailbag: When will James contribute?

We opened the floor for questions Friday morning on our Facebook page, and here's what was delivered to the 49ers Mailbag . . . Will we see a LaMichael James or Brandon Jacobs sighting this week? (John J Francis)
Don't expect running back Brandon Jacobs to play Sunday night against the Detroit Lions. He has been out with a left knee sprain since Aug 18. And he did not take part in practices Wednesday and Thursday, and those are the days when the bulk of the game plan is implemented.So I can't imagine the 49ers would send Jacobs -- or Ted Ginn -- into action without a full week of practice.
Meanwhile, James, the second-round draft pick, is healthy. But he has not earned the right to suit up for games.
James does not have a defined role on the team, yet. The coaches made him one of the seven inactive players Week 1 against Green Bay. Even with Jacobs injured, James is the No. 4 running back behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon.Dixon brings special-teams play to the table. James does not have value covering punts or kickoffs, so the 49ers could not find a way to make him one of the team's 46 active players.Originally, I thought James might be in uniform and a backup safety, such as Darcel McBath or Trenton Robinson, would be inactive. But McBath played 24 snaps on special teams, and Robinson played 15.The only way James gets on the field is if he practices well and offensive coordinator Greg Roman comes up with a plan to use James' talents against a specific opponent.Your thoughts on the Niners opening the playbook more? (Kyle Fletcher)
I thought the 49ers opened up the playbook Week 1 against the Packers with their wide variety of personnel packages and formations. They showed the Green Bay defense a lot of different looks.But if you're talking about the passing game, I don't think anything is going to change.Why would the 49ers change what's been working? Alex Smith has not thrown an interception in a team-record 185 attempts (not including 68 passes in the two playoff games). And the 49ers have gone 26 regular-season quarters without a giveaway. That's a team record, too.
So, no, I don't expect Roman to begin dialing up a bunch of low-percentage passes down the field. Smith will take calculated shots, but the 49ers are not going to become vertical all of a sudden. Smith will pick his spots, but you should never expect to see a steady diet of deep passes.
How valuable is Justin Smith to the interior of the 49ers defensive line and to the defense as a whole? (Jim Scales)
Justin Smith was credited with just one tackle in the 49ers' 30-22 victory over the Packers. The 49ers coaches, after a review of the game film, came up with three tackles, three quarterback hits and four pressures.Smith's contribution to the 49ers cannot be measured in statistics. He probably should've been in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season. But might not ever put up the gaudy statistics needed for such an award.Don't let the statistics fool you. Smith was his usual dominant self against the Packers. In large part because of Smith and the constant double-teams he faced, NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis combined for 20 tackles. Smith also deserves a lot of credit for Aldon Smith's success.Justin Smith, without question, is the guy who makes that 49ers defense tick. Unfortunately, there's no statistic available that proves that point.

49ers claim former Jaguars defensive lineman off waivers


49ers claim former Jaguars defensive lineman off waivers

The San Francisco 49ers' defensive line will have a new member coming off of the bye week.

The 49ers claimed defensive lineman Sheldon Day of waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday. The Jaguars waived Day on Saturday in order to make room for the return of rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook off of injured reserve. 

Day, a 2016 fourth round pick, posted 11 tackles and two tackles in 22 games over the last two seasons with Jacksonville. He played fewer than 30 snaps in all seven games with the Jaguars this season. 

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead, defensive tackle Tank Carradine, and defensive tackle Chris Jones are all on injured reserve, while defensive lineman Aaron Lynch missed the 49ers' last game in Week 10.

San Francisco ranks 22nd in the league in sacks, 23rd in pass defense, and 31st in rush defense. 

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’


LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’

LeBron James is an avid football fan. He's now an even bigger Colin Kaepernick fan than the sport. Following the Cavaliers' practice on Sunday, James opened up on Kaepernick and his absence from the NFL. 

"I've commended Kap, and for him to sacrifice everything for the greater good for everyone, for what he truly believed in, the utmost respect to him," James said to ESPN. "Obviously he had a vision like Martin Luther King and like some of our all-time greats that people couldn't see further than what they were doing at the point and time. And Muhammad Ali and things of that nature."

James believes the masses don't truly understand what Kaepernick was doing when he first took a knee as a protest against social and racial injustices in America. For his actions, James respects Kaepernick choosing his beliefs over his sport.

"When it's something that's new and it's something that people are not educated about or don't understand what your beliefs are all about, people are so quick to judge and people are so quick to say that what you're doing is wrong," James said. "For him to sacrifice the sport that he plays and to sacrifice the things he's done his whole life because he knew what he believed in, I salute him. I salute and respect that."

Add James to the list of those who believe Kaepernick is being blackballed by the NFL for taking a knee last season. The more games he watches, the more James sees the evidence on the wall. 

"I don't represent the NFL. I don't know their rules and regulations. But I do know Kap is getting a wrong doing, I do know that," James believes. "Just watching, he's an NFL player. He's an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him. It just feels like he's been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that."

Kaepernick, who recently turned 30 years old, appeared in 12 games for the 49ers in the 2016-17 season. Through the air he completed 59.2 percent of his passes and ended the year with 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Kaepernick also added 468 yards and two more scores on the ground. 

"The only reason I could say he's not on a team is because the way he took a knee," James said. "That's the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks -- first-string, second-team, third-team quarterbacks -- that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let's just be honest."

For his career, Kaepernick has thrown for 12,271 yards and 72 touchdowns to 30 interceptions. With his speed as a dual-threat quarterback, Kaepernick has also gained 2,300 yards rushing and 13 more touchdowns.