SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- If San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is to be taken at his word, running back LaMichael James doesn't figure to remain inactive much longer.
James was last seen in a game on Oct. 6 against Houston, but has been a healthy scratch in the three games since. This comes after he spent the first three weeks sidelined because of injury.
"I want to get that going," coach Jim Harbaugh said of James. "He's just too good of a football player not to be playing."
Harbaugh said that means both offensively and on special teams, where the team could use an upgrade in the return game.
When the team drafted James in the second round out of Oregon last year, he left college as the active leading rusher in the nation. In San Francisco's 27 games, including the playoffs, since then, James has yet to show the traits that made him one of the country's most dynamic players.
In his short NFL career, James has rushed for 221 yards on 45 carries in nine games, including three in the playoffs. In college, he eclipsed that yardage mark in five games. And while his other-worldly production for the Ducks wasn't going to be easily translated to the NFL, the drastic difference in role has been a challenging process for James.
"Pretty much the writing on the wall if you just look at the situation," he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I'm a professional now. I know how the game works and that's the way I take it."
His role has been as the team's No. 4 running back, behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon. Dixon's added value on several special teams units makes him a no-brainer to have active on game days, which has put him in position to get the carries that would likely go to James if they were both active.
Dixon was rumored to be on the trading block before the deadline Tuesday, but nothing came of it.
Because James' doesn't have the skill -- mainly the size or ballast -- to be a contributor on special teams other than as a return man, he only figures to be active if the team has a definite role for him in the offensive game plan. So far, that hasn't happened.
James has done his best to keep a positive mindset through the process.
"If you just look it at it in a negative (light), you'll just be upset all the time," James told the Chronicle. "I don't want to be upset all the time."
--The 49ers activated second-round pick DT Tank Carradine from the Reserve/NFI List and waived linebacker Jermaine Cunningham to make room. Carradine was on the list because of an ACL tear he suffered last season at Florida State and is expected to battle for playing time immediately.
-- WR Marlon Moore was waived. He played in six games this season and had one reception for 6 yards and one rushing attempt for 9 yards.