SANTA CLARA Marcus Lattimore says he'll know he's fully recovered from his knee injury when a defensive opponent knocks him to the ground.
"Once you put on the pads and you take a hit and you fall on your knee and you get up that's when you know you're ready to go," the 49ers' rookie running back said Tuesday. "You can do all the agility drills, training drills, everything you want. But until you get hit, that's when you know."
Which means it might be a year before Lattimore is certain he is 100 percent healthy.
While the 49ers' rookie class has gone through full-contact practices in pads the past two days, Lattimore was placed on the non-football injury list earlier this week. He is expected to remain on that list to begin the regular season, which would give the 49ers the option of activating him late in the season or shutting him down until next year.
Lattimore tore multiple ligaments and dislocated the knee cap in October. He went through a grueling rehabilitation process to get ready for the draft. After selecting Lattimore in the fourth round, coach Jim Harbaugh said the 49ers would slow that recovery down to make sure the knee fully heals. Lattimore said he understood and appreciated the 49ers' caution.
At the same time, he said he's made definite progress in the three months he's been with San Francisco. "I feel the improvement every day," he said. "You get the running down, then you get agility. Then it translates to football after that. I honestly feel better every day."
Tight-end tutorial Tight end Vance McDonald got a chance to meet the man he will try to replace this season, Delanie Walker, at the rookie symposium in Los Angeles earlier this month.
McDonald's greeting after shaking hands with Walker: "Hey, you're not a bad blocker."
That wasn't always the case. Walker, who was signed in the offseason by the Tennessee Titans during free agency, was a wide receiver when the 49ers drafted him in 2006. He's had to work diligently to gain size and strength to become one of the NFL's better blocking tight ends especially downfield.
McDonald said that will serve as a good lesson for him.
He did little in-line blocking at Rice and was split wide as a receiver one season. McDonald acknowledges his ability to block will determine how much he sees the field this season.
"You don't ever want to have one role," he said. " For me, I'd like to be known as being 50-50: You put him out wide, he's good out wide. You put him inside to run block, he's good inside."
Baalke talks Speaking for the first time since the draft, general manager Trent Baalke said the 49ers were "absolutely" aware cornerback Eric Wright, whom they briefly acquired in a trade last week, had been arrested for DUI in Los Angeles. Wright failed his physical Monday, voiding the deal.
"The Bucs were very forthcoming with the information, and we definitely knew what his status was," Baalke said. "Our medical staff wasn't convinced he was ready to put on the field, so we didn't pass him."
Baalke would not say whether starting linebacker Ahmad Brooks would be suspended for any games for his involvement in a June 8 fight with teammate Lamar Divens.
"Anything that we do, if in fact that transpires, you'll know when everybody else knows," Baalke said.