SAN FRANCISCO — The rookie running back finally got on the field. The old guy proved that he isn't nearly ready to step aside.
LaMichael James, active for the first time in 2012, showed some nifty moves in rushing for 30 yards on eight carries. Eighth-year veteran Frank Gore had 63 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, going over 1,000 yards for the sixth time in his career.
“When you see everybody say, ‘When you turn 29, 30, you can't do it anymore,' when I got to 29, I told myself I'm going to overcome that,” said Gore, who tied Roger Craig and Joe Perry for the franchise record (not counting AAFC statistics) with his 50th rushing touchdown. “And it's all about the training, offseason, working, being smart during the week.”
As Gore rumbles into the autumn of his career, James is just getting warmed up. The second-round draft choice from Oregon had been inactive the first 12 games of the season, but was thrust into action Sunday in the wake of an injury to backup Kendall Hunter.
James touched the ball on the game's first play, fielding the opening kickoff 8 yards deep and boldly running it out to the 26-yard line.
“Oh, yeah, I'm bringing it out, for sure,” he said afterward. “I'm going.”
When James got in the offensive huddle, he received some quick motivation from veteran wide receiver Randy Moss.
“Randy making little jokes, telling me in the huddle he was gonna do some things to me that I cannot say, if I don't run the ball hard,” James said.
James did run hard, showing a lot of quickness around the edge and an ability to spin away from tacklers. He has shown patience while riding the bench this season. And while he certainly didn't care for his lack of involvement, he now sees that it can help him down the stretch.
“At this level, those guys have been pounding for two or three months and today was my first day ever getting tackled,” James said. “So I've got a little bit of an advantage, and I'll take it.”