SANTA CLARA -- Rookie running back LaMichael James waited patiently for an opportunity to show what he could do. That came five games ago, and James is making the most of his complementary role.
James rushed for 125 yards on 27 carries in the 49ers' final four regular-season games. He also returned 14 kicks for 417 yards (29.8-yard average), including one for 62 that set up a key touchdown in the 49ers victory over the New England Patriots.
"Yeah, we're all happy with the way LaMichael has stepped in and has really given us a boost," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Thursday at his daily news conference. "It's been good."
James rushed for 21 yards on three carries against the Green Bay Packers in the 49ers' 45-31 NFC Divisional Playoff victory Saturday night.
Yet, it was an effective block on one of quarterback Colin Kaepernick's two touchdown runs that caught the attention of many of his teammates.
Harbaugh said he also is keenly aware of James' penchant for sticking his nose in there against bigger defenders and finding a way to contribute without the ball in his hands.
"Yes, there's real good evidence there LaMichael has good technique, good contact courage, as a blocker," Harbaugh said. "He has proven that."
James said he prides himself on helping out in some way every time he is on the field.
"I try to make plays, I try to provide a spark and help my team win," James said.