The long path to recovery for San Francisco 49ers running back Marcus Lattimore will see him face his latest hurdle when training camp begins later this month.
Lattimore, 22, will be placed on the non-football injury list by the team in what ESPN’s Field Yates is calling a procedural move so the former South Carolina running back can continue his rehab.
The 49ers placed Lattimore on the injured reserve last season after taking him in the fourth round of the draft after he blew out his knee in a game against Tennessee, one year removed from tearing the ACL in his other leg against Mississippi State. Prior to his second injury, Lattimore was viewed as a potential first round pick.
“Lattimore still appears to have a ways to go to get back to his pre-injury form, but he made significant progress during the nine weeks of workouts,” according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area.
Running back depth is not an issue for the 49ers with Frank Gore still churning out yards on the ground, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James providing a different skill-set and receiving options out of the backfield and the team spend a second round pick on arguably the top running back in the 2014 draft in Carlos Hyde.
The decision to draft Hyde may speak to the reservations the club has in Lattimore has of ever returning to the form he showed in his career at South Carolina, but they are absolutely handling his rehab the right way by taking the cautious and deliberate approach.
Football fans would love nothing more than to see Lattimore on the football field this season, but there’s no sense in rushing him and risking a setback. The 49ers need him in January, not August.