The 49ers reportedly called the Steelers about possibly trading for star running back Le'Veon Bell, and he doesn't believe their interest will stop there.
Bell told ESPN on Monday he thinks the 49ers -- as well as the Jets, Colts, Browns and Eagles -- would be interested in signing him as a free agent this offseason.
"I know the guaranteed money will be there [in March]," Bell told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. "If a team wanted to, they could definitely do what they needed to do to make me happy and satisfied."
Citing a source, Fowler reported Monday that Bell is set to return to Pittsburgh during the team's bye in Week 7. Bell refused to sign his $14.5 million franchise tag with the Steelers, wanting to preserve his body when he ultimately reaches free agency.
But, Bell said, he never considered missing the whole season.
"It sucks having to sit out football," Bell told ESPN. "I want to win games and the playoffs. But I've gotta take this stand. Knowing my worth and knowing I can tear a ligament or get surgery at any time, I knew I couldn't play 16 games with 400 or more touches."
During franchise tag negotiations, the Steelers told Bell they would transition tag him this spring, according to Fowler. That would give the Steelers the right of first refusal while the 26-year-old negotiated with other teams.
If Bell had his way, though, he'd return to Pittsburgh on a long-term contract.
"I could be naïve or hopeful, but at the end of the day, I feel like that's what's going to happen," Bell said. "I don't think they really want me gone. That could be me being prideful. But I'm still holding out hope."