Jets ask, 49ers listen, but no sell on Barlow

The 49ers have had discussions with the New York Jets, and Kevan Barlow's name has come up in the conversation. But Mike Nolan shot down trade rumors again Wednesday, saying the Niners had other things to talk about with the Jets besides Barlow. But when asked if Barlow should be reassured he's remaining a 49er, Nolan said, "I wouldn't reassure anybody that they'll be with this team right now."

And so it goes at 49er Central, where not even the team's starting running back can be too sure that he'll still be with San Francisco tomorrow.

Barlow, of course, has a tentative hold on that role and status, with Frank Gore already figuring to be just as prominent - or more so - in the team's 2006 rushing plans, and the 49ers also very pleased with what they've been seeing this summer from Maurice Hicks and rookie fourth-round draft pick Michael Robinson.

That's one reason the Jets took the liberty to ask about Barlow's availability after their attempt to trade for Cleveland's Lee Suggs fell through on Tuesday when Suggs failed New York's physical. The Jets fear that long-time starter Curtis Martin won't be ready for the season opener because of a career-threatening knee injury, and first-year coach Eric Mangini confirmed the team hopes to make another trade in the coming days.

"It's fair to assume there could be a lot of moves," Mangini told New York media

If the Jets are moving for Barlow, Nolan made it sound like they're not very close to getting him. At least, that's where things stand now.

"We were talking about different things with them, it wasn't just (Barlow)," Nolan said after the team's morning session Wednesday. "They weren't in any depth or detail or anything. That's one of the positions they wanted to know what we felt as far as our position goes and if we'd be willing to talk to them about a guy. That was kind of it. I'm sure that's why they initiated the call, but we had other things to talk about, too."

The 49ers are having talks with several teams throughout the NFL as they attempt to make final upgrades on their roster before they make their push into the 2006 season. One of those conversations yielded the team another receiver prospect on Monday when the Niners traded fifth-year cornerback to Mike Rumph to Washington for fourth-year veteran Taylor Jacobs.

The Niners have let it be known throughout the NFL that they are ready to wheel and deal. Since the beginning of last season, they have traded linebacker Jamie Winborn, quarterbacks Tim Rattay, Ken Dorsey and Cody Pickett, receivers Brandon Lloyd and Rashaun Woods and now, Rumph.

"We are a football team that doesn't have a tremendous amount of depth," Nolan said. "We're still trying to create depth on our roster. That's probably why we do so many player-for-player trades. The reason we're doing it now is that we need to create some depth and this is an opportunity for us. It's always nice when someone calls you and says, ‘We need this from you.' When they come knocking on the door, you usually get a little better deal for yourself than if you had knocked on someone else's."

That's Nolan's way of inferring that a possible deal for Barlow certainly is dead. Though Barlow is a factor in San Francisco's offensive plans this year, the team has great depth at running back, considering veteran Terry Jackson also is around at the position and the 49ers would like to find a way to keep their long-time special teams captain on the roster.

When word of Barlow's name being bandied about by the Jets hit the rumor mill Tuesday, Nolan said he made a point to talk to Barlow and let him know that the discussions had taken place rather than Barlow finding it out from somebody else first. But Nolan didn't come out and tell Barlow he's untouchable.

"I like to keep strong at different positions, but I'm not going to assure anybody of that," Nolan said. "I just don't like them wandering around wondering what's really going on. I didn't want (Barlow) wondering what was going on. So I sat him down and told him exactly that. I think in his mind, at least he can say, ‘I got it from the horse's mouth.' I just try to let them know what the situation is."

Barlow said, "Just speculation - that's what he told me. I wasn't worried about it. I think it's actually an honor that a team wants to trade for you. But I'm happy here. This is my team, man. I've been here when we went through the ups and went through the downs and now we're on the way back up. People will always speculate and make different rumors, but coach Nolan said don't even pay no attention to them."

With the inordinate amount of trades the 49ers have made in the past year and still seem willing to make in the immediate future, Barlow was asked if he ever starts to wonder that he might be next.

"I'm not going to even comment on that question," he responded. "I'm not worried about it. I'm here. … I hope."


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