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SANTA CLARA -- Less than 12 hours after stating the 49ers felt no urgency to replace return man LaMichael James, general manager Trent Baalke on Saturday morning might have replaced LaMichael James.
The 49ers selected wide receiver Bruce Ellington of South Carolina in the fourth round with the No. 106 overall pick.
Ellington, the fastest receiver on the 49ers’ roster, will be battling for a potential No. 3 job behind Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. Stevie Johnson, Quinton Patton and Brandon Lloyd are also in the mix for the No. 3 job.
“That’s going to help me get better because those guys can play,” Ellington said Saturday morning. “I’m going to learn from them. Learn the playbook and get with them and let them teach me some things, watch what they do and become a better player by watching them.”
Ellington has a chance to win the job as the 49ers’ return specialist over James, who is not attending the 49ers’ voluntary workout program. James has been dissatisfied with his role on the team and would welcome a change of scenery, according to a source.
Ellington averaged 22.7 yards on 43 kickoff returns. The only three punts he handled in college came during his final season. He averaged just 5.3 yards. He was beind Ace Sanders, a fourth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars last year, for most of his career.
“I have a little experience doing it,” Ellington said when asked about his experience returning punts. “I did it in college. I did it a little bit in high school. So I’m going to be comfortable doing it. I’m ready to come in and do whatever coach asks me to do -- kick return, punt return -- whatever it is, I’m going to be ready.”