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Report: 49ers have made ‘exploratory call’ for Le’Veon Bell, but nothing more at this point

I’m not holding my breath.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are actively shopping running back Le’Veon Bell, according to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport, and another report suggests the San Francisco 49ers have at least modest interest.

CBS Sports reporter Jason La Canfora is reporting the 49ers and New York Jets have both made exploratory calls, and the Philadelphia Eagles are also interested. La Canfora said, “nothing has advanced beyond a preliminary stage and San Francisco’s interest is likely mitigated by the season-ending injury to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.”

The 49ers lost running back Jerick McKinnon to a torn ACL prior to the start of the regular season. Matt Breida has emerged as a big threat, while Alfred Morris has served as more of the grinder in the backfield. The duo has been successful to date, although both are dealing with knee injuries that have them listed as questionable for Week 4. Both are expected to play, but neither is operating at 100 percent.

I suspect any time a great player is available, we’re going to hear the 49ers connected to them. They admitted to making calls about Josh Gordon and Khalil Mack, but nothing happened in either case. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have both said they will always be interested in great players when they come available. Whether deals actually happen is another thing entirely. We saw them deal for Jimmy Garoppolo, so they can happen, but it will be a case-by-case basis.

The NFL trade deadline is a month away, which gives teams some time to figure out where they stand and if they want to add Bell. I don’t expect the 49ers to make a move, but if C.J. Beathard impresses and the team is at or above .500 as the deadline approaches, maybe they push a little harder. Of course, as long as Breida is doing what he’s been doing and is healthy, it doesn’t seem worth the addition given the contract that would follow in the offseason for Bell.

But if the 49ers are scuffling along these next four weeks, it would seem to cut the likelihood of the 49ers pursuing Bell to near zero.