Jan 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James (23) runs with the ball against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome. The 49ers won 28-24. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Could the Chicago Bears Inquire On LaMichael James?


Running back has become thin for the Chicago Bears.  Should they seriously consider pursuing LaMichael James?

Matt Forte age and loss of Michael Bush create a problem for Bears

It’s already been established the Bears won’t look to address depth concerns on offense until the third round of the draft at the earliest.  Topping that list has to be running back.  Marc Trestman was true to form in 2013 when the position became a focal point for his new offense.  Matt Forte piled over 1,900 yards and 12 touchdowns to reach his second career Pro Bowl.  However, he turns 28-years old this coming season, a dangerous age for players at his position.  On top of that his former backup Michael Bush was already cut due to salary cap concerns.  That leaves just 2013 undrafted free agent Michael Ford as the sole man on the depth chart behind Forte.  Given the importance of the position to Trestman’s scheme, that is a problem that can’t be ignore.  The question is how will the Chicago Bears front office solve it?

Kendall Hunter and Marcus Lattimore make James expendable

Sometimes when a team is so good at stockpiling talent at a certain position, certain players never really get a chance to showcase what they can do.  That situation has befallen LaMichael James.  The San Francisco 49ers are quite rich at the running back position.  There is of course All-Pro Frank Gore and his primary backup Kendall Hunter.  Now though James is getting pressure from the depth charter with 2013 draft choice Marcus Lattimore returning to full strength.  His presence makes James unnecessary.  That is likely the reason San Francisco has begun shopping the former Oregon star on the trade block.  He is only 24-years old and carried the ball just 39 times in two seasons.  His body has very little wear and tear on it and his great agility and speed offers added promise in the return game.  The fact he averaged 4.7 yards per carry is also worth nothing.  Running is not the problem, it’s simply not getting enough carries.  Since the 49ers can’t give them to him, perhaps another team can.

The Chicago Bears would make a lot of sense.  They have need for depth at running back, feature an offense that fits the skill set of James and could really use an upgrade in speed to go with their forest of big targets like Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett.

Tags: Chicago Bears Featured Kendall Hunter LaMichael James Marcus Lattimore Matt Forte Michael Bush Popular

  • Brian

    If he is so expendable, would it be worth dealing in a trade back scenario in the draft. Say, CHI and SF trade picks in the first, then bears also get a 3rd rounder, plus James? What are your thoughts on something like that? If this was the case, then we’d be able to spend our picks on other positions and pick up an extra pick. Then grab another RB if needed from UFA.

    • Erik Lambert

      If we’re talking value here I’d say James is in the 3rd or 4th range. So the Bears get a 2nd, James and a 4th for the 14th pick or they get a 2nd, 3rd and James for it. Then I would seek out a bigger back who runs with some power in UDFA.

      • metalhead65

        if they get james then what is the point of signing someone else? if they need a bigger back then go out and get one of those but if they get james then they would have him forte and ford why waste another roster spot and salary on another back would not play that much? if james is as good as he is supposed to be and ford turns out to be decent then they do not need anyone else. and until ford gets playing time they have no idea if he can do the job. it may turn out they don’t need james if he does well in camp and in pre-season so imo that can wait until later in the summer to address. bush was a big back and they never used him properly, hard to move the chains when the defense knows you will get the ball and it will be the same dive play every time. in the last couple of games he ripped off some big runs on plays that were not dives up the middle.

        • Erik Lambert

          Bush was cut not because of his lack of ability but because of his age (30) and his salary cap number. The reason I think they need to get that big back, should they get James of course, is because Ford is not that guy and he’s by no means a guarantee to be anything more than he was a year ago which was a special teams reserve and an emergency runner. Add to the competition with a power body and if Ford beats him out, fine.

      • Brian

        With as many picks as SF has, and jumping that many spots in the draft I think Emery could wheel and deal the picks. If we can’t remain in the 1st round and get an additional pick with him I don’t think it’d be worth it and Emery won’t pull the trigger. It’d be a nice scenario if we can though, because he is a solid all around back with low miles on his tires. He would be a great option to have to relieve Forte and defenses won’t know it’ll be a run up the gut like whenever bush was on the field. He’d give us more versatility for sure. I think he’d be a great addition, just depends on what price we can get him for.

  • bobportcharlotte

    If the 49ers release him, the Bears should sign him. Probably at the minimum.

    • Erik Lambert

      That’s provided he wants to come to Chicago. Other teams might offer him more. I wouldn’t be surprised if Philadelphia did. Chip Kelly recruited him at Oregon after all.

      • bobportcharlotte

        James has a much better chance of success with the Bears than the Eagles. Personally, I think Kelly is overrated and really full of himself. I am anticipating him having a reality check this coming season. It appears he cut his top receiver because he wouldn’t kiss Kelly’s ring. If so, that attitude will have a short life span with the pros. He could get away with that bit in college. But the NFL? I don’t think so!

        • Erik Lambert

          This year will really tell the story of Kelly’s offense in the pros now that coaches have had a chance to review film. James to the Eagles doesn’t make sense simply because Philly already traded for Sproles. The Bears have the offense and the need.

          • bobportcharlotte

            I am thinking that available players are very much aware of the team that is being assembled and what is taking place with the Bears. More so than the talking heads! Thus, a guy like Jared Allen chooses the Bears over other teams that wanted him. With several more good moves, by Emery, the Bears could take the spotlight away from the current glamour teams this coming season.

          • Erik Lambert

            Frankly I like where they’re at. Building a really good roster without anybody paying attention to them. It’s a great way to catch teams by surprise.

          • bobportcharlotte

            I completely agree with you. It is amazing to me how many of us are anticipating this draft. What is also amazing is that I do not think that any Bear fan will be upset with anything Phil Emery does in this draft. I think he has so completely won us over. You have no idea how upset I was two years ago when he did not take David DeCastro who was the top rated OL in that draft. The Bear offensive line was horrible and Cutler was getting creamed each week. I was even hoping Emery would trade up to get DeCastro who was expected to go between the 12th and 14th pick. Instead he dropped to the Bears with their 19th pick and Emery passed on him for Shea Butter. I couldn’t believe it. I have wondered if he did so because Lovie and Tice convinced him that they could make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear. In other words, their offensive lineman would get better. What a joke that turned out to be. It is a wonder Cutler was not permanently injured during the next season. Emery fixing the OL last year was quite remarkable!

          • Erik Lambert

            I think Emery was handcuffed by the fact that Lovie wanted a pass rusher more than offensive line help. The curse of having a defensive coach in charge. Emery does make the picks but he takes a lot of input from the coaches. You can’t tell me he would’ve had the confidence of picking Kyle Long last year if not for Trestman and Kromer seeing the potential and believing they could do something with him. In truth I was more upset they didn’t take Chandler Jones than DeCastro. I feel he would’ve made a great compliment and eventual successor to Peppers. Still, it’s really hard to fault Emery. Even rookie GMs make mistakes and he’s clearly learned from them. I expect he’ll take those lessons and apply them well for his third go-round.

          • bobportcharlotte

            I appreciate your reasoning for wanting to take Jones two years ago BUT the Bear offensive line was absolutely horrible at that time and Cutler was taking a beating each week. What a contrast between what the offensive line was and to what it now is. The Bears went from having the worst offensive line to having one of the best in one year. This is why I think most Bear fans have such a tremendous amount of confidence in Emery and Trestman to do the same for the defense this year. What an incredible change in expectations from the Angelo/Smith regime to the current Emery/Trestman one. You have to love it!

          • Erik Lambert

            I do love it. The reason I say Jones upset me more is because I felt the Bears were going to address the O-line in the 2nd or 3rd where they could still get value at guard and tackle. I never imagined they wouldn’t address it at all. Still, that is in the past. Emery and Trestman recognize what the problems are and will do what it takes to fix them.

  • aj

    I see him as more of a training camp cut. And possible sign. If the bears stay patient, they may find tons of players like these during final cuts. It happens every year.

    • Erik Lambert

      James was taken in the 2nd round for a reason. The kid can play. The problem is he’s a bad fit for that offense in San Francisco but he’s been productive whenever he touches the ball. I think he’s worth getting provided the price isn’t extensive.

  • John Colvin

    He’d be a welcome addition to the team provided he can catch the ball out the backfield and make a play similar to how Forte can. His speed will be great for shotgun running plays behind our strong offensive line. I would welcome James to Chicago with open arms based on what we’ve seen him do and his numbers.

    • Erik Lambert

      The guy was great the few times he got chances in San Francisco. He’s a perfect fit for the pass-first Trestman scheme.