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LaMichael James reportedly sprains MCL in 49ers' win

LaMichael James' unimpressive preseason took an ugly turn Thursday night when the San Francisco 49ers running back sustained a left knee injury during the preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers.

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Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee reported Friday that James suffered a sprained MCL in the 49ers' 41-6 win. James won't require surgery but is expected to miss three weeks, Barrows was told by a source.

Until the second-year pro returns, the 49ers will turn to Kyle Williams to return punts while leaving kick-return duties to Perrish Cox or Quinton Patton.

James currently sits third on the running back depth chart behind Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, the latter activated earlier this month after last season's Achilles surgery.

Rotating with reserves Anthony Dixon and Jewel Hampton, James had just 55 yards on 24 carries in August. He did a nice job in relief of Hunter in 2012, but he doesn't project as an impact player on offense. Still, any lengthy absence by James would pose an issue for the 49ers on special teams.

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