Marcus Lattimore is about ready to return to the football field. Just not yet.
The Sacramento Bee is reporting that Lattimore, a fourth-round draft pick in the 2013 draft, will be placed on the injured reserved/non-football injury for at least part of the 2014 football season. This will be the second year Lattimore begins the season on the non-football injury list, which allows him to practice with the band. The designation also means the four-year contract he signed as a rookie still had all four years because he was never put on the active roster.
San Francisco team doctors are still concerned that Lattimore hasn’t fully recovered from the catastrophic knee injury he suffered during his junior year at the University of South Carolina. In one horrific moment, Lattimore suffered complete tears in his anterior cruciate ligament, posterior cruciate ligament, and medial collateral ligament, an injury similar to the injury suffered by Willis McGahee while playing in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl for the University of Miami. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier later called it a dislocated knee. Lattimore’s knee was repaired by renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews.
Both San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke both are saying that Lattimore hasn’t suffered a setback. Team doctors are not available to the media for comment. Lattimore did practice with teammates during spring drills but was placed on the non-football injury at the beginning of training camp.
Niners Nation is reporting that offensive coordinator Greg Roman gave some positive but cautious news about Lattimore during a recent interview.
“He’s looking good. Our training staff are the people to ask on that if you want to get specifics. [vice president of football operations] Jeff Ferguson, in particular. They’re putting him through a lot of change of direction stuff, hard-type cutting. He’s looking good. But I would ask Fergie about that,” Roman said. Ferguson was not available for comment.
Last month, Baalke said the running back was “close” to returning to the field. On August 15, Harbaugh said, “He’s doing well. There’s been gains, but that’s where we’re at. Not quite there yet.” Lattimore said he had resigned himself to starting the season on an injury list again and said he was doing okay mentally. Any player who starts the season on NFI must sit out at least the first six weeks.
If Lattimore is able to return during week 7, he could add depth to a backfield that already includes rookie Carlos Hyde and veteran Frank Gore.