SANTA CLARA – LaMichael James, who has remained away from the 49ers’ voluntary offseason program, is still part of the 49ers’ plan for the upcoming season, general manager Trent Baalke said.
Baalke said Friday night that the club will not necessarily look to add a return specialist on the third day of the draft to supplant James, who 10.9 yards on 23 returns and did not lose a fumble.
“First of all, LaMichael did an excellent job for us a year ago,” Baalke said. “That’s his job, along with the running back position. We don’t feel an urgency to go out and replace LaMichael at all.
“(We’re) very excited about what he brings. First year as a punt returner averaging over 10 yards a return. Competed at a blue level as a punt returner for us, and would expect him to only get better in his second year of doing it.”
Baalke defined “blue level” as a player who ranks among the 10- to 15-percent of players at his position.