According to a league source, the San Francisco 49ers have been shopping around running back LaMichael James, a second-round pick in the 2012 draft who many thought would become the team's goto back.
James ran for 5,082 yards and scored 53 rushing touchdowns while with the Oregon Ducks, but he has never found his stride as a full time back in the NFL. He has had limited work as a runner with the 49ers and finds himself behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps Marcus Lattimore on the depth chart.
He was the main punt and kick returner last year, and played well in that role, averaging nearly 11 yards a punt return. But, according the Sacramento Bee, he 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. He missed the first three games last year with a knee injury.
According to the Bee's report, the 49ers have been very interested in replacing him as the teams main return man. They looked at Golden Tate and Dexter McCluster, among others.
Where James will land in the league is up in the air at this point, and as much talk as there has been about a trade, it's still pretty early to call it, outright. Look for the Niner's to move him a little later in the preseason.
The best guess is that he will end up in Philadelphia with his old coach, Chip Kelly. James was a key figure in coach Kelly's explosive offense, having amassed 5668 yards from scrimmage in 37 career college games.
At this point, the Eagles have four running back under contract. LeSean McCoy is one of the best running back in the league and will probably be in Philly a long time. Bryce Brown and Chris Polk are both young and have flashed great potential. Undrafted free agent Matthew Tucker did enough to earn a job on the team's practice squad before being called up to the main roster in an emergency situation.
Kelly has places on the team that need more attention, but his familiarity with James and love for offensive prowess, and the fact James would be an upgrade over Tucker, makes some kind of trade involving James highly likely.