Running back LaMichael James has been out of a job for 2 ½ weeks, and that’s a surprise to his former college coach.
But even Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly does not have a spot available on his 53-man roster for the player who twice finished in the top-10 of Heisman Trophy balloting while at Oregon.
“I think LaMichael is a hell of a football player,” Kelly said Wednesday morning on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.
“I think maybe the timing had something to do with it, because people’s rosters might have been set, but I know him first hand. I had an opportunity to coach him. I love the kid. He’s an awesome football player. He’s an awesome person.”
The 49ers waived James on Sept. 8, one day after the 49ers’ season-opening victory against the Dallas Cowboys. James, a second-round pick of the 49ers in the 2012 draft, passed through waivers unclaimed. James has taken only one reported visit, as he met last week with the Miami Dolphins.
[RELATED: James visits, does not sign with Dolphins]
When trade rumors surfaced in the offseason, the Eagles were one of the teams that seemed the most likely to want to deal with the 49ers for James. However, Philadelphia is loaded at running back.
LeSean McCoy rushed for 1,607 yards last season. The Eagles acquired veteran Darren Sproles in the offseason, and he has accounted for 117 yards rushing and 196 yards receiving in three games. Third running back Chris Polk had a 102-yard kickoff return Sunday against Washington.
“I was unaware of anybody ever contacting us to trade about anybody, but I feel very confident with LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles and Chris Polk,” Kelly said. “So I look at our running back position as a position of strength for us.”