49ers Rumors: SF Made 'Serious Push' for Le'Veon Bell Before RB Signed with Jets

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2019

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) plays in an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Don Wright/Associated Press

The San Francisco 49ers reportedly made a "serious push" to sign free-agent running back Le'Veon Bell before he reached an agreement with the New York Jets

On Wednesday, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported the Niners' "strong offer" wasn't enough to overcome New York's four-year, $52.5 million proposal reported ESPN's Adam Schefter or Bell's "youthful affinity" for longtime Jets backfield star Curtis Martin.

The 27-year-old Michigan State product sat out the 2018 NFL season after refusing to sign a one-year contract tender associated with the franchise tag from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

San Francisco signed Jerick McKinnon to a four-year, $30 million contract last March, but he missed his entire first year with the 49ers after suffering a torn ACL in September.

The Niners still ranked 13th in rushing yards per game by utilizing a committee that included Matt Breida, Alfred Morris, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Raheem Mostert.

They will be looking to step forward offensively in 2019 with the return of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who appeared in just three games before suffering his own torn ACL. Adding Bell would have been a major boost to those efforts.

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Live on @nflnetwork, our guy @MJD says he spoke to his agent -- Adisa Bakari, who's also Le'Veon Bell's agent -- and Bakari said the #Jets were the frontrunner all along for Bell, though another strong offer came from the #49ers ... who acquired Bakari client Dee Ford last night.

That said, Breida, Wilson and Mostert remain under contract alongside the returning McKinnon, which suggests the Niners may be better off using their financial flexibility to upgrade a receiving group with Marquise Goodwin currently penciled in as Garoppolo's top outside target.

So, while it's not a surprise the 49ers considered Bell, they made a wise decision to not get in a bidding war with the Jets.

Their backfield group should be strong enough to help the offense find consistent success if the San Francisco front office can find more weapons for the passing game in free agency or the draft.