LaMichael James paying off early returns


SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers have been trying to figure a way for second-year running back LaMichael James to contribute.

They have may have found one. James has been the team's punt returner the past two games. He supplanted Kyle Williams, who was cut last week.

In a limited role, James -- a second-round pick from Oregon -- has given the team a punt-return spark that Williams was unable to provide. James had 58 yards on five punt returns. He does not have any fair catches.

Williams had fair catches on 20 of 32 opportunities and just 61 yards on his 12 returns.

James struggled at punt returning as a rookie.

"I feel 100 percent better," James said this week. "I'm much more comfortable. It's exciting to get a chance. I have to be aggressive when I get the ball and that's what I try to do."

So far, it looks like the 49ers made the right choice in the return game.