Nnamdi Asomugha and LaMichael James are on the inactive list for today’s game between the 49ers and Cardinals, calling into question how much each player will contribute the rest of this season.
Asomugha probably could’ve played last Sunday against the Texans, and was a “limited participant” in practice over the past week. However, Tramaine Brock took Asomugha’s job with excellent games against St. Louis and Houston. Brock was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his two-interception performance against Matt Schaub that included a pick-6. Asomugha doesn’t play special teams there’s not much he can contribute unless he’s one of the top three corners.
As for James, special teams is probably where he’d help the 49ers most at this point. However, he hasn’t shown the team he can return punts better than Kyle Williams and he isn’t a good enough kick returner for the 49ers to activate him. James had four carries for 31 yards in garbage time against the Texans, but that wasn’t enough to get a spot in the lineup. It’s clear now that while Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh thought they were getting a Darren Sproles clone when they took James in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, they ended up with a player closer in skill level to Dexter Carter.
James might have hurt his own cause by tweeting an ambiguous complaint about “not trying to be insurance” a couple weeks ago. James maintains that tweet had nothing to do with football, and one would imagine he’ll keep quiet about sitting out his fourth game of the season.
In happier news, Patrick Willis is back in the starting lineup after missing two games. Willis has 52 tackles 2.5 sacks and two interceptions in nine career games against the Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald, questionable with a hamstring injury, is also active. Over 18 career games against the 49ers, Fitzgerald has 100 receptions for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns. Last season Fitzgerald only caught seven passes for 65 yards against the 49ers in two games.
49ers inactives: McLeod Bethel-Thomspon, Quinton Patton, Chris Harper, LaMichael James, Nnamdi Asomugha, Jermaine Cunningham, Joe Looney
Cardinals inactives: Ryan Lindley, Ryan Williams, Kevin Minter, Kenny Demens, Bobby Massie, Tony Jefferson, Ronald Talley