I'll begin this by saying I have heard absolutely nothing linking the Jets to LaMichael James, nor any rumors of the 49ers looking to ship him out/cut him, since he's still on his rookie contract. This is purely a fun idea to think about, and something to talk about in the boring days leading up to the draft.
As most of you know, James was taken in the second round of the 2012 draft by the Niners. So far in the pros, he hasn't exactly lived up to his second round selection, or his reputation of being one of the most explosive players college football has seen in a long time. In two years with San Francisco, James has carried the ball a whopping 39 times for 184 yards in the regular season, with no touchdowns. He did have one score in the 2012 playoffs, however. He has also caught 5 passes for 45 yards. Again, underwhelming. I doubt this is the type of production 49ers expected when they spent a second round pick on him.
This lack of production could be a result of several factors. It may be because James is buried on the depth chart behind Frank Gore (who is still one of the best backs in the league), Kendall Hunter, and Anthony Dixon. It may be because the 49ers are a power running team, and James isn't the type of back that should be used between the tackles. It may be because the 49ers aren't using him correctly, or aren't drawing up plays to get him the ball in space. It may also be the fact that James just simply isn't any good. I don't think anyone can make this conclusion until either the 49ers start getting him more touches or we see him operate in another offense.
There are a few reasons I think the Jets would be wise to make a move for LaMichael James. He could be what we thought we were getting with the Mike Goodson signing, only cheaper and minus the headache. I like the idea of getting faster on offense, and this kid can fly. He also showed adequate, but not great, receiving skills in college, piling up 51 catches for 586 yards over his three year stay at Oregon. This isn't an overwhelming number, but I'd be willing to bet he's a better receiving back than anyone we have on the roster now, save maybe Goodson. I think a fresh start in a different system may be just what he needs, and if it doesn't work here either, it's not like he's costing a boatload of money anyway. Acquiring James would also allow us to cut Mike Goodson and his legal problems and save some cap space, though lord knows we don't need any more of that.
Now the comes the tricky part: acquiring him. Even if the 49ers see no future in James and don't plan to use him, I can't see them cutting him. There's no sense cutting a player with potential upside on a rookie contract. I honestly have no idea what it would take to swing a trade for James, but I would start with a 6th. We already have three more thanks to the compensatory picks, why not spend one on a dynamic back/return man? As for the 49ers, I can only really see them looking to deal James if they honestly think he has no future on the team, or if they're just looking to add draft picks. They did trade a 6th for Blaine Gabbert, maybe they'd be looking to reacquire that pick? I personally wouldn't go higher than a 5th. I've seen countless mocks that have us grabbing Dri Archer in the 3rd/4th round this year. I like Archer, but I think this team has too many holes to use a premium pick on a position that is at least average by NFL standards right now.
Like I said before, this is just for some fun discussion. What do you guys think? Would you risk a late round flier on LaMichael James? What would you be willing to give up?