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Trade Bait: What can the 49ers do with LaMichael James?

LaMichael James
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 49ers are reportedly shopping RB LaMichael James as first reported by Matt Barrows. If he departs, it would only add another scar on the 49ers 2012 draft class as only three players including James remain on the roster.

Coming out of Oregon, James had 5,082 yards and scored 53 rushing touchdowns in three seasons after coming onto the scene due to starting RB LeGarrette Blount being suspended for punching a player. Once he started playing for the 49ers, he remained inactive for majority of the 2012 season until Kendall Hunter tore his Achilles tendon.

James became the team's primarily kick and punt returner in the second half of the 2013 season, but saw a limited amount of playing time on offense. In the regular season, he only had 12 carries for 59 yards averaging 4.9 yards per rushing attempt.

Despite being a second-round draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the 49ers had majority of that draft class as inactive players where an undrafted TE in Garrett Celek would receive more playing time than any other rookie. James was buried on the depth chart last season behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and even Anthony Dixon for snaps at the RB position. When Marcus Lattimore starts competing after a full recovery from two torn ligaments, the competition becomes even more uphill for James.

General Manager Trent Baalke said back in February that he is committed to James, but based on a football standpoint, he is looking expendable.

A logical trade partner would be the Philadelphia Eagles where James would be reunited with former Oregon coach Chip Kelly. However, the Eagles already acquired Darren Sproles and James would also be behind LeSean McCoy on the Philadelphia depth chart.

The best case scenario would be for the 49ers to use James in a trade up scenario during the NFL Draft. Whether it's part of a package in the first round or for a late-round pick, it would be best for the 49ers to rid themselves of the disgruntled running back. The most value they will get for James for draft picks straight up would be a seventh-round draft pick with the minimal amount of playing time he has received in San Francisco.

James' days with the 49ers seem limited and now it's up to the 49ers if they can get something or nothing out of him when it is all said and done.