When a player of Le'Veon Bell's talent hits the trade market, any NFL team would be irresponsible not to pick up the phone and see what it might take to acquire him.

The 49ers reportedly did just that, making what CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora termed "an exploratory call" to the Steelers on the disgruntled running back. The Eagles and the Jets did the same, La Canfora reported, citing league sources.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that the Steelers are actively trying to trade Bell for a second-round draft pick and a player.

If that's truly the Steelers' asking price, the 49ers likely quickly hung up the phone. Bell, while one of the NFL's best running backs, would be a one-year rental, and there's no guarantee he'd want to re-sign with the 49ers, who couldn't negotiate with him until after the season ends.

The 49ers likely would prefer to roll with Matt Breida and Alfred Morris in their backfield this season, then hope Jerick McKinnon and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo bounce back from their torn ACLs next season. Plus, the 49ers historically haven't committed big dollars to running backs -- and that's exactly what Bell wants, and why his holdout from the Steelers has stretched into Week 4 this season.


So, 49ers fans who want Bell in red and gold shouldn't get too excited. While La Canfora reported the Steelers prefer to trade Bell to an NFC team, the 49ers probably would just doing their due diligence. The NFL trade deadline isn't until Oct. 30, and the Steelers' phone will be ringing plenty.

This Sunday, be sure to watch 49ers Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. and 49ers Postgame Live immediately after the game on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus and live streaming on the NBC Sports app. Greg Papa, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Matt Maiocco and Laura Britt will have everything you need to know.