Time for James to make Sproles-like impact

While I still think it would be a good idea for the San Francisco 49ers to trade running back LaMichael James to the Philadelphia Eagles, it won’t happen.

There's no room in Philly for a shifty running back. Chip Kelly -- who coached James at Oregon -- got his tailback Thursday when he traded for Darren Sproles from New Orleans. As for James, the 49ers can only hope he can become the Sproles-like weapon they envisioned when they spent a second-round pick on him in 2012.

James has made little impact on offense, but he did become a solid return man last season. If James doesn’t make something happen in a crowded backfield in 2014, his time in San Francisco could be limited.

In other 49ers' notes:

The Eagles signed cornerback Nolan Carroll. The 49ers had shown interest in him. The 49ers are reportedly visiting with Minnesota cornerback Chris Cook on Thursday. They still want to keep free-agent cornerback Tarell Brown.

Carolina released Steve Smith on Thursday. If the 49ers are interested -- here are some reasons they could be -- the time is now.

Second-year defensive lineman Quinton Dial switched from No. 71 to No. 92. He made the request weeks ago. It had nothing to do with the addition of offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, who wore No. 71 in Miami. If Martin wants to keep the number, though, it is available.