Almost one year ago, Marcus Lattimore saw his football career nearly come to an end via a gruesome knee injury. The San Francisco 49ers still opted to take a chance on the elite running back, gambling a fourth-round pick on him back in April.
For the last six months, Lattimore has been rehabbing from a torn ACL while sitting on the 49ers’ non-football injury list. When they initially drafted him, it was assumed that he would sit out his entire rookie season in hopes of getting his knee back to 100 percent. It appears, though, that the talent-laden runner could return to the field sooner than expected.
“I still might get a chance to practice this year, and it might be soon,” Lattimore told Matthew Barrows of The Sacramento Bee. “I look forward to it. I’ll be head over heels when that happens.”
While that day might still be a ways away, it’s a promising sign for a player that many considered to be the next elite NFL running back prior to the injury. Some had even compared his potential impact to that of Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s MVP in 2012. Still, there’s no need for Lattimore to rush back.
At this point in time, the 49ers simply don’t need Lattimore to be available.
They have Frank Gore, who is having no trouble slashing and gashing defenses on a weekly basis. The 49ers’ No. 2 runner, Kendall Hunter, is a reliable backup who has No. 3 back LaMichael James fuming from his lack of playing time. Even Anthony Dixon is in the mix, so there’s no lack of depth at the position.
There’s nothing wrong with Lattimore being excitied about getting back to football, but he’s more valuable to the 49ers at 100 percent next season than he would be by rushing back this season.
The only remaining question: just how soon is “soon?” By Week 11, the 49ers must either elevate him to the active roster or place him on IR. We’ll see what happens in a few weeks.