The 49ers plan to allow running back Marcus Lattimore to join practice following their Week 8 bye, and if he responds well to those sessions, to bring him onto the 53-man roster within 21 days. If it happens that way, it will be the first time Lattimore, who has been rehabilitating from a gruesome knee injury for the last two years, will have been on the 49ers' active roster.
Lattimore, who is on the non-football injury list, is eligible to start practicing next week. However, coach Jim Harbaugh noted that the 49ers' bye week, which comes in two weeks, would count toward the 21-day window in which teams must decide whether to activate a player. Harbaugh said it made more sense to begin that process after the bye.
“He hasn’t played football in a year-and-a-half and we could simulate a good three-week training camp period,” Harbaugh said. “And then activate after that and turn him loose. But give him the best possible scenario to help the football team and for him to be at his best. Right now, that seems wise.”
Coaches believe Lattimore's surgically reconstructed knee is ready to be tested. Lattimore spent all of last season on the NFI list. He practiced with the 49ers during non-contact OTAs in the spring but did not take part in training camp.
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“I watch him when he's working out on the turf field,” running backs coach Tom Rathman said Thursday. “The explosion that he has, the ability to jump – I think everything's on track as far as us making sure we know what we're going to get.”
Rathman said next month’s three-week period of practice would be critical for Lattimore. If that time table holds, it would make Lattimore eligible to play in New York against the Giants Nov. 16.
“He's got to make sure that he gets himself in playing shape, game shape in those three weeks, whether it's hitting the sled or doing extra work on your own with the pads on,” he said. “Because – who knows? – after that bye you've got three weeks to evaluate and you never know what's going to happen. You've got to be ready to go. And I think he's ready. He just needs the opportunity.”
The 49ers have made do for most of the season so far with just two tailbacks, Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde, each of whom had strong outings in Sunday's win over the Chiefs. How would Lattimore fit in if he's brought to the 53-man roster?
“It's a good problem to have,” Rathman said,
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.