After several weeks away, it sounds like LaMichael James is now in attendance at the San Francisco 49ers offseason workout program. Matt Barrows is reporting multiple sources have indicated James joined the team this week. The 49ers are midway through the program, with rookie minicamp starting today, and the first OTAs starting next Tuesday, May 27.
James has been the subject of some trade rumors this offseason, although Trent Baalke has repeatedly shot down the rumors. Baalke and Harbaugh have both mentioned that James recently had a kid, and was spending his time back in Texas with his newborn. People are going to believe what they want about the absence, but at this point, it would appear he is back with the team at the facility.
One thing that has been interesting to note in Baalke's comments about James is that he usually has referenced that James is the team's return man. James has gotten very little work at running back outside of the preseason, and he has generally come across as frustrated about the lack of opportunities.
At times this has felt like a Baalke pick that Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman have not been able to work into their offense. We'll probably never know for certain what's what with this situation, but at this point I'd still be surprised if James was a 49er by the start of the regular season.
Part of this will depend on if the team can find a viable alternative to handle kick and punt returns. James hasn't been lights out in the role, but he has done some good work as a return man. Bruce Ellington will probably get a good deal of return work this offseason. If he shows he can handle it, the 49ers might get a little more aggressive in trying to deal James. I'm sure we'll see a lot of folks getting some opportunities in the workout program and well into training camp.