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Running back LaMichael James joins 49ers for voluntary workouts

LaMichael James rejoins San Francisco 49ers for voluntary workoutsLaMichael James (23) has been largely relegated to special teams duties in his first two seasons in the NFL thanks to the 49ers' loaded backfield. (David Bergman/SI)

When the San Francisco 49ers began their voluntary offseason workouts, the one notable absence was that of running back LaMichael James, which caused the speedy third-year pro to lose a $50,000 workout bonus in his contract.

According to The Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows, James has returned to the team to begin his preparation for the 2014 season.

San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke weren't all that concerned with James' absence.

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“No,” Baalke said in April when asked if he was concerned that James wasn't in Santa Clara. “Because he just had a young child and has a new baby at home, settling into life. Understand this, this is voluntary. This isn’t where they have to be here right now."

Although his position on offense is running back, James is the primary return man on special teams at the moment, duties which he took over full time last season following the departure of Kyle Williams.

The 49ers' backfield is very crowded right now with Frank Gore, Marcus Lattimore and second-round draft pick Carlos Hyde, so it's unlikely that James will do much more than return kicks and punts once again in 2014.

Even that isn't guaranteed. This month, the 49ers drafted South Carolina receiver Bruce Ellington, who will compete for playing time on special teams.

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