James, Williams likely to compete for return duties

James, Williams likely to compete for return duties
February 22, 2013, 7:45 am
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The 49ers have not placed a high priority on re-signing wide receiver/return man Ted Ginn, so the door could be open for LaMichael James. (AP)

Editor's note: Stay logged on to CSNBayArea.com all week long as 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco reports from the NFL combine in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS -- LaMichael James took over for Kendall Hunter, who sustained a season-ending Achilles injury with five games remaining in the regular season.

If Hunter makes a full recovery, as expected, James might return to seldom-used status behind Frank Gore and Hunter as a running back. But James has a chance to make a significant impact in the return game.

The 49ers have not placed a high priority on re-signing wide receiver/return man Ted Ginn, a league source told CSNBayArea.com on Friday. The 49ers have started the process of meeting with representatives of their own free agents at the NFL scouting combine.

Among the 49ers' scheduled free agents are safety Dashon Goldson, tight end Delanie Walker, and defensive linemen Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean Francois. Ginn is also a scheduled free agent after returning to the 49ers last season on a one-year contract.

Ginn caught just two passes for 1 yard during the regular season. He added one catch for 3 yards in the postseason. Ginn handled the punt-return chores. He averaged 10.2 yards on 32 returns. The 49ers appear ready to move on at punt returner.

James and Kyle Williams, who is expected to be ready for training camp after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL, will likely compete for the 49ers' return duties, the source said.

James struggled catching punts during the exhibition season. He continued to work on that discipline during the season. Reserve cornerback Perrish Cox was the 49ers' backup punt-returner after Williams' injury.

Hunter gained 371 yards on 72 rushing attempts as Gore's backup through 11 games. He had a 5.2-yard average. James stepped into the primarily backup role and averaged 4.6 yards through the remainder of the regular season.

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