- Running back LaMichael James will make his preseason debut this Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
The third-year pro suffered a dislocated right elbow early in training camp (July 27th to be exact) and it was thought at the time of the injury that James would be ready for the regular season but would miss the entire preseason.
James has had experience with this sort of injury before, dislocating his elbow in high school and college. The most recent occurrence was back in 2011 when James was a collegiate back with the Oregon Ducks. He dislocated his right elbow in a game against Cal and was able to return to action just three weeks later.
"I just really want to be out there with my teammates, competing and just playing." said James. "The medicine's on the field, just like coach Harbaugh said."
While James has been sidelined, the bulk of the carries coming out of the backfield has gone to backups Jewel Hampton (16 carries), Carlos Hyde (nine carries) and Alfonso Smith (seven carries). Starting running back Frank Gore did not play in the preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens but did get two carries in last Sunday's matchup against the Denver Broncos before being replaced by Hyde in the first quarter.
Rookie wide receiver Bruce Ellington has also seen increased time in the return game due to James' absence.
- Strong Safety Antoine Bethea has been regulated to non-contact drills since suffering a concussion during Sunday's game against Denver. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh said the Niners will be cautious with Bethea as he will most likely be cleared to play but will not participate in the team's third exhibition game of the preseason.
Safety Craig Dahl will likely get the start in place of Bethea.
- The Niners matchup against the Chargers could prove to be important in regards to right guard Alex Boone. Boone continues to hold out for a new contract and reportedly will stay true to his stance even with the start of the season just over two weeks away. According to ESPN's Ed Werder, "unless (the) Chargers get inside pressure on (Colin) Kaepernick, to give Alex Boone some leverage, his holdout could last into (the) regular season."
Teams still inquiring about Boone's availability may be hesitant after Bleacher Report's Jason Cole stated that the Niners would want either a first round or second round pick. The high demand for the disgruntled guard insinuates that the 49ers would prefer not to trade Boone.
Joe Looney will once again get the start at right guard on Sunday.
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