James struggled to emerge in two seasons under coach Jim Harbaugh, seeing time as a punt returner last season, but rarely as a piece of the puzzle in San Francisco's backfield.
"Everyone kind of realized it was best for both sides," Sperbeck told the San Francisco Chronicle's Eric Branch.
His 41 attempts for 184 yards over three seasons included just two totes in Sunday's throttling of the Dallas Cowboys. The rookie Hyde saw seven carries in relief of Gore, clarifying that James was nothing more than a deep reserve for this run-heavy attack. James saw just 139 snaps during his run with the team.
Due $641,718 this season and another $792,577 in 2015, James is subject to waivers before hitting the open market.