San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James was not present for the start of the teams’ offseason program on Monday, according to Matt Maiocco of csnbayarea.com and that’s yet another good sign that the former second-round draft pick out of Oregon will likely be dealt over the course of the next few weeks.
Last week, we discussed the possibility of the 49ers trading up 15 spots in round one of the 2014 NFL Draft next month in order to select UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr due to all of the uncertainty currently surrounding outside linebacker Aldon Smith. As part of the scenario that I threw out there for discussion, that included the Pittsburgh Steelers being the 49ers trade partner, James would be included in the deal.
As I noted last week, James was brought in by the Steelers for a pre draft visit back in 2012, so they should know a little bit about the change of pace back that has been barely used by the 49ers during his first two years in the league.
A potential trade between the 49ers and the Steelers, or any other team for that matter, would not likely take place until draft day as San Francisco would first have to see how far Barr falls and what it would cost for them to move up to get him. This of course assumes that Barr is a primary target of the 49ers, but most would agree that he’d be a good candidate to replace Smith, who could find himself suspended for the start of the 2014 season.
The Steelers could be in the market for a change of pace running back to compliment Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount being as LaRod Stephens-Howling isn’t currently under contract. Stephens-Howling is still recovering from a knee injury suffered last year in the season opener.