LaMichael James is struggling to stay quiet about his role with the San Francisco 49ers. Could this reignite the trade winds around the running back?
Carlos Hyde and Marcus Lattimore suffocating James on depth chart
A phrase that my sound wonderful to fans but not so much to a player is “crowded depth chart.” It typically means a team is stacked with talent to the point where good players might never even seen the field. The San Francisco 49ers have reached that point with their running backs. Already having a proven tandem in Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, they added to the maelstrom during the past two drafts by taking Marcus Lattimore in 2013 and then Carlos Hyde this past May. That has created a very difficult situation for LaMichael James, another of their many additions who had hoped to worked his way into the lineup at some point after being their primary punt returner. Now that hope seems dashed, and it’s not easy to accept for James who was the focal point of a very successful offense at Oregon. That explains why he held out for a time from team practices and then vented his frustration during a recent interview. It’s clear if he’s not getting a chance to play, then he wouldn’t mind going someplace else.
Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints among possible takers
The question is whether the San Francisco 49ers are even willing to entertain a trade and if so, where could they send him? GM Trent Baalke already dismissed the idea early in the off-season. Granted, things can change and if Hyde and/or Lattimore emerge in training camp it would make the idea of dealing James a little more acceptable. At that point it becomes a question of finding an interesting suitor. There are plenty of teams that look like good fits. The Indianapolis Colts lost Donald Brown in free agency and are left with Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw. They could use a young speed element like James and he would fit well with their West Coast system. Another option is the New Orleans Saints. They recently had to unload Darren Sproles and though they did draft Brandin Cooks, he’s more of a wide receiver. LaMichael James could thrive in their offense at running back.
In the end, everything depends on supply and demand. If the 49ers are willing to make James available, some team is bound to make an offer.