SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers on Monday welcomed back to practice one injured player, nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, and will do the same with another, running back Marcus Lattimore, on Wednesday.
Monday was the two-year anniversary of the wrenching knee injury that ended Lattimore’s 2012 season at South Carolina and began a grueling rehabilitation process that the running back and the 49ers hope will end next month.
Lattimore, a fourth-round draft pick in 2013, has been on the non-football injury list since joining the 49ers. He practiced with the team late last season, but there was never any real hope for him to be placed on the 53-man roster.
The plan this year is different.
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Lattimore’s knee is in better shape, and the 49ers have just two tailbacks, Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde, on the active roster. Beginning Wednesday, the team will have a 21-day window to evaluate Lattimore. After that, the 49ers likely will put him on the active roster, perhaps before the team’s Nov. 23 game against Washington.
“I’ve been watching off to the side, and I’m excited to watch him play football again,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “You saw some of it in the offseason, but I think he’s further ahead from where he was, two, three, four months ago, and (I’m) excited to see that progress on the field. I’m looking forward to it.”
Lattimore was unavailable to reporters Monday. He has said in the past, however, that the last step in his return will be taking a hit and getting tackled.
That’s something the 49ers typically don’t do during a week of practice, but Harbaugh said the team will try to simulate it as best it can for Lattimore.
“I think we can get him a little extra contact when we have the pads on,” he said. “Pass protection, hitting sleds and maybe thudding up a little bit extra outside of the normal practice drills.”
Dorsey, meanwhile, suffered a torn biceps on Aug. 1 and had surgery three days later. The 49ers eventually placed him on injured reserve with a designation to return.
He, too, has a 21-day window to practice with teammates before the 49ers must either move him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the season.
Ian Williams has played well at nose tackle through the first seven games. Tony Jerod-Eddie and Quinton Dial also can play the position.
When Dorsey is healthy enough to play, the 49ers will have eight defensive linemen on the active roster. That’s a lot for a team that uses only two in its nickel defense, leading to speculation the team will try to deal a lineman before Tuesday’s trade deadline.
Harbaugh, however, said he didn’t anticipate any trades.
Et cetera – Harbaugh said linebacker NaVorro Bowman has begun “lateral cutting” in his comeback from February ACL surgery. Still, the coach said there is no timetable for Bowman’s return.
▪ Guard Mike Iupati (concussion) and cornerback Chris Culliver (hamstring) practiced in full on Monday, while linebacker Patrick Willis (toe) and safety Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) were limited.
▪ Harbaugh said that cornerback Chris Cook’s hamstring injury involved muscle tearing from the bone and that Cook had surgery Friday. The 49ers have an open roster spot after Cook was placed on injured reserve last week.
▪ Neither the NFL nor the 49ers had information on whether Aldon Smith’s nine-game suspension would be reduced. The terms of the suspension state that the league could cut it by as many as two games, so it’s possible Smith could play Sunday against the Rams.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.
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