The NFL trade rumor mill is usually quiet in the offseason, but after Trent Richardson was moved in 2013 anything is possible and one deal that could be intriguing involves 49ers running back LaMichael James, as the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens or New York Giants could be interested in a move, especially if Marcus Lattimore is healthy.
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ESPN.com writer Bill Williamson proposed the idea during the season and it came up again recently in a post about the upcoming draft and offseason plans. Williamson writes that the Niners should look into a deal with James, as he was not much of a factor during the season after missing some time with a knee injury and if Marcus Lattimore is looking healthy, he could be used to snag another draft pick for the event coming in May.
The Niners already have double digit picks again this year and adding another one in a deal for James could enable the team to move up. The team has been willing to do that in the past, as they did it for Eric Reid last year and also did it for Colin Kaepernick when Jim Harbaugh traded picks to get him in the second round. The team has been willing to make deals as well, as evidenced by AJ Jenkins for Jon Baldwin as well as others over the past few seasons and this time it could be a match.
The Niners have Frank Gore and think Lattimore will be healthy in 2014 and that makes James expendable. The best bet is to trade him to the Eagles, as Chip Kelly knows him from his days at Oregon and as another ESPN writer says, the team needs depth at running back. The Eagles had the top ranked rushing offense last season with LeSean McCoy, but he had the majority of touches and Bryce Brown could use someone legitimate behind him as well. McCoy is 25 years old and has many years ahead of him, but if he carries as much as he did last season, he will have a short shelf life.
McCoy touched the ball over 350 times last season and had 314 carries and that is a great deal for any running back and adding someone like James could change the pace and be hugely beneficial for the starter. Toby Gerhart and LeGarrette Blount are free agents and those could be options as a backup, while someone like De'Anthony Thomas could be an option in the draft. James missed the first three games with a knee injury last season and had under 60 yards rushing and this could be good for both the Eagles and Niners.