The 49ers already have Frank Gore, Brandon Jacobs and Kendall Hunter, but James, who became the 61st overall pick in the NFL draft Friday, has the potential to be a dangerous weapon who can score from anywhere on the field.
"It's like poker, right? It's a full house," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a news conference when asked about his loaded backfield. "In poker, a full house is a good hand. (James) allows you to carry an extra guy just because of his versatility. ... It creates competition. We're not afraid. We never back down from that. Our guys know that."
Standing 5-foot-8 and weighing 190 pounds, James has great acceleration and will give the 49ers another return option, along with Ted Ginn Jr. (Kyle Williams tragically proved there was a depth issue there last season.) San Francisco could line up James in multiple spots on the field, making him a difficult player to game plan for.
"I feel like I have a variety of skill sets," James said in a conference call after being picked. "Returning ability, I can run in between the tackles, I can catch the ball, I can do pretty much everything they ask me to do."
The 49ers ranked 11th in the NFL in points scored last season, but they were 26th in total yards. That strange discrepancy was made possible by a record-breaking season from David Akers and a league-best plus-28 turnover differential.
In other words, the 49ers scored points, but they did it in a difficult manner that will be hard to replicate.