The San Francisco 49ers are holding their local Pro Day today, and it was proceeded by general manager Trent Baalke meeting with the media for a lengthy chat. Naturally it focused on a lot of the off-field issues, including Aldon Smith and Colin Kaepernick's situations, but we also got a question about LaMichael James. The 49ers running back has been the subject of trade rumors, and Baalke weighed in on the chatter:
Baalke said #49ers have no intention of trading LaMichael James.— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) April 25, 2014
Baalke said his understanding is LaMichael James is working out in Texas due to recent birth of his child. Said does not plan to trade James— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) April 25, 2014
Baalke: "I am well aware of what Tweeting or Twittering or whatever is."— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) April 25, 2014
Has LMJ camp asked for a trade? Baalke: "Not outside of the Twitting."— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) April 25, 2014
Cam Inman wrote a brief article on the various topics, and he used the phrase "The 49ers are not actively trying to trade running back LaMichael James". Whatever the wording, I still think LMJ is on the trading block, and the 49ers are looking for someone to take him off their hands. Baalke has nothing to gain by saying he is trying to trade James. The league already knows the 49ers don't use him as more than a return man and a garbage time running back. The 49ers have very limited leverage, so they're not going to say thing one about trying to deal James.
The LaMichael James situation is the most obvious example that sometimes Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh might not be on the same page. I can't find the specific comment, but I recall a couple years back Trent Baalke talking about wanting to put together a 3-headed rushing attack. The addition of Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James would make sense to develop that attack.
Unfortunately, Gore has remained the primary guy. Hunter showed great value his rookie year, but a torn Achilles tendon late in his second season messed with his development, and has left the 49ers continually reliant on Frank Gore. LMJ is not a fit for the 49ers scheme, but he could potentially fit elsewhere. We don't know what he'll amount to in the NFL, but it makes sense to move him elsewhere where his skills make more sense. Friend of the site Dylan DeSimone put together a solid article discussing this issue.
Although this represents differing opinions on LMJ, it does not represent problems. They have a healthy, albeit competitive relationship that helps key this franchise. Speaking of which, MMQB's Greg Bedard spent a week in Santa Clara recently and put together a great breakdown of how he perceived the relationship.