The final steps in Marcus Lattimore’s long road back from reconstructive knee surgery will begin after the 49ers’ bye week, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Thursday.
Harbaugh said the team plans to allow the running back to join practices 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 that happens, it will be the first time Lattimore, who suffered a gruesome right knee injury while at South Carolina on Oct. 27, 2012, is on the 49ers’ active roster.
Lattimore is on the 49ers’ non-football injury list and does not count against the team’s 53-man limit. He is eligible to start practicing next week. However, Harbaugh noted that the 49ers’ bye week would count toward the 21-day window in which teams must decide whether to activate a player. Harbaugh said it makes more sense to begin that process after the bye.
Coaches believe Lattimore’s surgically reconstructed knee is ready to be tested. He spent all of last season on the NFI list. Lattimore practiced with the 49ers during non-contact organized team activities in the spring but did not participate 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. “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 the three-week practice period will be critical for Lattimore.
“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 with two tailbacks, Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde, each of whom had strong games in Sunday’s win over the Chiefs.
How will Lattimore fit if he’s brought to the 53-man roster?
“It’s a good problem to have,” Rathman said.
Beats working – Colin Kaepernick said the NFL fined him $10,000 this week for wearing pink Beats by Dre headphones to his postgame news conference Sunday.
The pink headphones were in keeping with the league’s acknowledgment of Breast Cancer Awareness month. The problem is that the NFL’s headphones sponsor is Bose, not Beats by Dre.
Kaepernick endorses Beats by Dre, including in a commercial last year. Will the company pay his fine?
“I’m going to let that be unanswered,” Kaepernick said.
Et cetera – Tight end Vernon Davis, who missed last week’s practices because of a back injury and sat out against Kansas City, practiced on a limited basis Thursday. He wore a blue, no-contact jersey.
▪ Neither offensive tackle Anthony Davis (knee, ankle) nor cornerback Tramaine Brock (toe) practiced Thursday, increasingly the likelihood that Jonathan Martin and Perrish Cox will start in their places Monday against the Rams.
▪ Harbaugh indicated that coverage specialist Kassim Osgood, who was released Wednesday to make room for veteran defensive back Ray Ventrone, will be brought back this week. He did not say how the team would create roster space for Osgood.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.