The Niners might not have the trade capital that other interested parties do, but their running back room currently consists of Jeff Wilson Jr., Jordan Mason, Marlon Mack, and Deebo Samuel. That’s someone who had a torn meniscus at the start of 2021 and serious injury history, a rookie, a has-been, and a wide receiver. Not exactly the room you want if your offensive scheme revolves around outside zone power runs and your star left tackle is out for the next four weeks.
Yes, I understand Elijah Mitchell will be coming back, but that won’t be until mid-season. The 49ers are about to head into a stretch where they play the Rams twice, the Cardinals, Chiefs, Chargers, Saints, Dolphins, and Bucs all within the next 10 weeks. Should something happen to Wilson, the Niners would be in running back limbo. Putting Samuel in the backfield would limit Jimmy Garoppolo’s options in the passing game. Would they start using Kyle Juszczyk as their lead back? At the. They can’t do that.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan has worked with feature backs before. When Shanahan was still in Atlanta, he helped Devonta Freeman reach back-to-back Pro Bowls on the strength of two 1,000-yard seasons and 22 total rushing touchdowns. Barkley would give the 49ers a legitimate passing weapon in their backfield without having to put Samuel back there. Imagine all the shenanigans Shanahan could pull if he could keep Samuel on the outside all the time. It’d be difficult to stop.
The 49ers have the draft capital to make a move like this, too. They don’t have a first-rounder, but they have their second, third, and two compensatory third-round picks as well. That said, the Niners have faith in Mitchell and are so far down the committee rabbit hole that I can’t see them making a move like this in a million years. Would it make sense? Yeah. Will it happen? Almost definitely not.