Originally posted by Disp:
James has touched the ball just over 60 times in his career and he's fumbled it 6 times (4 fumbles, 1 fumble against NE that they said forward progress stopped, and a fumble vs. Atl. that he was barely down by contact on a KR). That pretty much says everything. I don't care what he potentially brings as a punt returner; for a ball control team, if he's fumbling the ball once every 10 touches, that's unacceptable and WILL cost this team.
This isn't only an issue on kicks and punts, it's an issue on runs with him. Every time he gets touched it feels like there's a chance the ball's gonna get ripped out.
Still working with a short sample size. By the same logic, Ted Ginn should never be allowed to return punts or kicks because he fumbled the ball 5 times in his second season in the NFL. He got criticized for muffing a bunch of punts when with Miami, but was a fairly reliable returner with the 49ers, no. Returners need reps to get their confidence. Josh Cribbs, Devin Hester, both of those guys had issues with ball control, it comes with the territory. Hester fumbled 6 times as a returner in his first season.
If you want someone with dynamic return ability, then you take the good with the bad, either that or you take back 'Fair Catch' Williams and expect to have the ball between the 20-30 yard line everytime.
Like I said, James needs to improve his focus and I'm sure the coaching staff will work with him on that, if he continues to make mistakes, then you look at replacing him on returns as well, but people are overreacting quite a bit. The guy barely played last season until Hunter got injured, then they threw him in, this preseason he didn't get much work, they made him inactive for several of these games, young players will make mistakes, it happens.
James right now has one of the better punt return averages in the NFL, he's averaging almost 12 yards per return, he's certainly worth working with.
[ Edited by Phoenix49ers on Dec 2, 2013 at 10:32 AM ]