Barnwell says Bell could be 'creative' fit on 49ers offense


Le'Veon Bell at his very best makes all the sense in the world for a 49ers offense. Bell is one of the greatest multi-dimensional running backs the game has seen, as both a threat as a ball-carrier and a receiver. Well, at least before the New York Jets ruined yet another star. 

Bell was released by the Jets on Tuesday and will become a free agent Wednesday at 1 p.m. PT. ESPN's Bill Barnwell believes Bell could be an option for Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers as a creative offensive weapon. 

"I wonder whether the 49ers might get particularly creative with Bell and use him less like a pure running back and more like the sort of hybrid back Gase pretended to suggest Bell might become in New York," Barnwell wrote Wednesday morning. "Shanahan loves nothing more than having offensive weapons who are threats as both runners and receivers with the ball in their hands.

"Bell would be another one of those pieces."

Through five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell averaged just under 1,600 total yards from scrimmage and over eight touchdowns per year. He had 5,336 rushing yards, 2,660 receiving yards and 42 total touchdowns. And then he joined the Jets. 

Even when Bell averaged a career-low 16.3 rushing attempts per game and only averaged 3.2 yards per carry last season, he still totaled 1,250 yards. He had 789 rushing yards and 461 receiving yards. Bell still is only 28 years old, around the same age as Raheem Mostert. 


The Jets still are on the hook for Bell's $2.5 million bonus Thursday and the prorated remainder of his $6 million base salary. Any team that acquires him can do so for the league minimum.

RELATED: Don't expect 49ers to sign Bell after being released by Jets

Remember, the 49ers were one of the teams interested in Bell ahead of his free agency before the 2019 season. There isn't necessarily a team need at running back, but Tevin Coleman still is out with a knee injury and Bell could be a boost to the offense when used the right way. That is, if he's close to the player he was in Pittsburgh. 

Bell has been nothing more than ordinary for in New York. Then again, these are the Jets -- a dark green cloud that chews up football careers and spits them back out on that god awful MetLife Stadium turf. There are no indications the 49ers are interested in Bell right now, but he certainly would be an interesting piece to a team that needs as much help as it can get.

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