8:22pm: A 49ers source says James would welcome a trade if it meant more playing time elsewhere, tweets Bill Williamson of ESPN. However, the source wouldn’t go so far as to say that the tailback requested a trade.
7:19pm: The 49ers are shopping running back LaMichael James, a source tells Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. The 2012 second-round pick could be used to vault San Francisco higher up in next month’s draft.
When asked in February if he was shopping James, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said, “No discussions. LaMichael is a 49er. He’ll continue to be a 49er.” Two months later, it appears that stance has changed quite a bit. The 24-year-old ran for 5,082 yards and scored 53 rushing touchdowns while at Oregon but hasn’t seen much burn at the NFL level. Today, he finds himself behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, and possible Marcus Lattimore on the depth chart at tailback this season.
James served as the team’s primary returner last year and played well in that role, averaging nearly 11 yards per punt return, but Barrows’ source says James has made it clear to the team he wants a bigger role as running back as well. He carried the ball only 12 times in the 2013 regular season and just once in the playoffs.
Barrows notes that the Eagles, at one time, would have been a logical suitor since Chip Kelly was James’ coach at Oregon and that the man who scouted James for the 49ers, Tom Gamble, is now with the Eagles organization. Philadelphia, however, filled its running back void with Darren Sproles earlier this offseason.