Dec 29, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James (23) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The last time the Broncos scoured the waiver wire for a kick returner, it worked out.
Well, at least for a while, anyway.
With LaMichael James asking for and being granted his release from the 49ers, he is a player subject to waivers and a guy I was really high on coming out of college. The logjam at running back for the 49ers as well as the plethora of talent they have at skill positions meant virtually no touches for the former Heisman candidate out of Oregon, who is soon to be claimed by an NFL team or shopping for a new home.
There are teams in the NFL who need running backs, of course, and the Broncos are actually pretty well set at that position. I think, however, that they ought to look into claiming James specifically for his ability and potential to return kicks and punts. Isaiah Burse fumbled a punt which he initially caught, and then had the ball blasted out of his hands by a Colts defender who just rocked him. The Broncos saw inconsistency from Burse in training camp and the preseason, but felt confident enough about the final preseason performance he had to give him a shot on the 53-man roster.
The Broncos and John Elway claim they are always looking for areas of the team to upgrade, and I think adding James is a chance to do that. It’s not a matter of life and death for their season, but just like Trindon Holliday surprisingly showed up on waivers in 2012 and contributed in a major way to the Broncos’ success that year, I think James has big play ability and perhaps an eventual fit in the Broncos’ offense which utilizes backs as receivers, something James showed he could do at Oregon.
When James was coming out of Oregon, I thought the Broncos might try to draft him, but they took Ronnie Hillman a few picks after James was selected in the 2nd round by the San Francisco 49ers. Now, the wait is on to see if some team will claim James, if the Broncos are that team, or if he’s able to choose on his own.