By the time he carries the ball again, it will be a year and a half since the grisly knee injury that ended his college career.
But after three weeks practicing with the 49ers, rookie running back Marcus Lattimore is convinced he’ll be ready when his time comes.
The 49ers had a three-week window to let the rookie running back practice, and he went through the last one Friday. He won’t be activated from the non-football injury list, but showed enough during his limited work to be encouraged.
“If I had to play, I would play,” Lattimore told Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “Without question, if they needed me, I could play. But they don’t need me right now.”
Instead, Lattimore gets what amounts to a redshirt year. The 49ers took the player who was considered a first-round talent in the fourth round this year, knowing he probably wouldn’t contribute in 2013 because of the grotesque right knee injury.
“This extra time is just going to give me enough time to get comfortable without the brace I was wearing and go out there and play like nothing ever happened,” Lattimore said. “Three weeks, and I got better every week. And that was my main goal, to get better every week. The soreness went down every week. I was out there moving around and being myself. And I know the things I have to work on now. . . .
“My confidence is good. I know I still got it. Going into next year, I can’t wait.”
The 49ers were deep enough in the backfield and had enough extra draft picks to take the chance, and now get a year to see if the investment proves to be worth it.