Before we get started, let me say that this post is by no means based any kind of report. This is just some simple offseason speculation. With that out of the way, let's begin.
LaMichael James was quite the talented player back in his college football days at the University of Oregon. James was a key figure in Chip Kelly's explosive offense, having amassed 5668 yards from scrimmage in 37 career college games. College success has not translated to success in the NFL for James, however. James hasn't amounted to much since being selected by the 49ers with the 61st overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. In 14 games played, James has recorded 39 rushing attempts for 184 yards (4.7 avg), 5 catches for 45 yards, 0 TD, and 4 fumbles. David Fucillo of Niners Nation summed up LMJ's 2013 campaign, and as you can see, it was a disappointment.
The use, or lack thereof, of LaMichael James has been a source of constant frustration. He brings a certain speed in space that Gore and Hunter lacked. Gore and Hunter can make plays, but when James gets in space, he can do some crazy things. Unfortunately we rarely got to see it. And of course sometimes he was a spinning machine that got shut down. On the offensive side of things, it was an overall disappointing 2013. It is particularly disappointing given the decent sized workload he got to close out the 2012 season behind Frank Gore.
CSN Bay Area logically speculates that James could be traded. The 49ers haven't found a role for him and they already have a number of talented running backs on the roster, with potentially even more to be added this offseason.
As for LaMichael James, there is no way he still has second-round value in a trade. His value is not as great because he has only two seasons remaining on his contract. James could find himself on the trade block with a running back corps that could consist of Gore, Lattimore, Kendall Hunter, Jewel Hampton and any other offseason additions. But for the 49ers to even consider shipping off James, they must have a plan for someone else in the return game.
So could James be reunited with his old college coach, Chip Kelly? Many will say that running back is one of the few positions the Eagles do not need to address this off-season. I'm not so sure Kelly will feel the same way. It's hard to imagine Kelly ever looking at his offense and saying "that's good enough." No, Kelly will surely upgrade if he has the chance. Especially when it's a player that Kelly knows and likes.
The Eagles currently have four running back under contract. LeSean McCoy is the best running back in the league and he's not going anywhere. Bryce Brown and Chris Polk are both young and have flashed 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. But I'm not sure any of these backup players preclude the Eagles from adding another running back at a low cost. It's also not crazy to think the Eagles could keep four running backs on the 53 man roster next season. They already did it this year after they activated Tucker and didn't want to release him.
If James could be had for an inexpensive price (a conditional late round pick?), a trade to the Eagles could make sense. The Niners get something (small) for a player that's not in their plans, and the Eagles take a shot on a player that could add a new dynamic to their offense. James could also contribute on special teams as a returner.
What say you?