It seemed like a quiet Tuesday of NFL free agency for the 49ers from the outside, but that apparently wasn't the case inside the organization.
The team agreed to a trade for, then contract terms with Kansas City Chiefs edge rusher Dee Ford in the early evening, and they also reportedly were in the Le'Veon Bell sweepstakes before the All-Pro running back chose the New York Jets.
Sources said 49ers made a serious push for Le’Veon Bell with a strong offer, Jets came over the top late. Youthful affinity for Curtis Martin/Jers was a factor— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 13, 2019
Bell's most likely landing spot always was the Jets, but the 49ers evidently were interested, just as they were with Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who reportedly was traded to the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday.
It’s always interesting when a team is mentioned after a superstar trade or signing is made public. What makes the Bell-49ers discovery even more curious is what it says about San Francisco's current roster.
If the 49ers were willing to pursue Bell -- who reportedly landed a four-year, $52.5 million deal with $35 million guaranteed in New York -- what does that say about their backfield? Is the team not sold on Jerick McKinnon’s return to the field after ACL surgery? Is Matt Breida’s durability a concern?
Obviously that would require reading between the lines, and 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan preach that they always closely look at players who could improve the team. Lynch even confirmed that the team “went real hard” for Khalil Mack before the Raiders traded the star linebacker to the Chicago Bears last year.
Beckham and Bell are playmakers who clearly would have improved the 49ers. So of course the team kicked the tires … and even negotiated with the salesperson. A deal just couldn't be brokered.