After signing with the 49ers this offseason, Tim Hightower can be confident that he’s on a team that expects him to make a significant contribution to the offense. But it wasn’t long ago that he wasn’t confident he would ever play again.
Hightower’s once-promising NFL career looked like it had been derailed as a result of a torn ACL he suffered during the 2011 season. That knee injury, as well as a post-surgery infection, led him to spend the next three years out of the NFL. Now Hightower says he feared during that absence that he would never return.
“It was a long process,” Hightower told ESPN. “It was scary. One thing, when you are playing this game, there’s a level of confidence that comes along with it. You get used to competing and playing at a high level and being very confident in what you do. For the first time in my life, I really felt like like my confidence was challenged. Everything that you’ve known, everything that you’ve been accustomed to and worked for, you can’t do it. You have to kind of re-identify — who am I? What if this is really over? Where do I go from here?”
It wasn’t until 2015 that Hightower finally got back into the league with the Saints. In 2016 he bounced back in a big way, with 133 carries for 548 yards, plus 22 catches for 200 yards. And now he feels prepared for a big year in San Francisco. He’s come a long way from the years when he wasn’t sure he could ever play football again.