The 49ers roughed up running back Marcus Lattimore after practice Wednesday and plan to knock him around a little bit more today.
“All the different phases of contact that they might encounter as a runner,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Thursday of the routine. “Whether it’s pass protection, contact on the boundary as a ball carrier, contact up the middle, from the right, from the left, being able to move in space with a defender as you block him, adjust to different pass rush moves – spin moves, push-pull, swim, all those different types of things. And ball security work as well. So it was pretty well-rounded.”
Essentially, the 49ers are putting Lattimore through an individualized version of training camp, something he has yet to experience in the NFL. He went through the spring sessions with the team this year but was placed on the non-football injury list before training camp began.
Part of Lattimore’s routine simply is designed to get him used to playing football again. He hasn’t taken a hit, after all, since the one on Oct. 27, 2012 that left him with the devastating knee injury from which he is still recovering.
Lattimore said he didn’t know how long is would take him to get acclimated. “Once I get out there, I just gotta keep going,” he said. “I gotta be consistent. And I think over time it will come. I don’t know how long, though.”
The contact drills – practice squad linebacker Chase Thomas provided the honors – also are meant to rebuild Lattimore’s confidence, which he said is far better this year compared to last. Like this season, Lattimore had a three-week window in 2013 in which he could practice with the team. But the sessions weren’t nearly as intense or rough-and-tumble as they are now.
“Didn’t have any confidence going out there last year,” he said. “That’s the main thing. I feel stronger, the knee feels better. It’s a huge injury. So I knew it would take time. I just didn’t think it would take this long. But I feel good.”
Cornerback by committee – Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said there’s no concrete plan on how he will use his group of talented cornerbacks, all of whom are practicing this week, but he said the goal was to get them all on the field.
“We’ll mix up the corner position and try to get them all action in there, in and out, and it’ll be different combinations,” Fangio said. “When we play six DBs, they’d be in there, all of them. ... I think it’ll be different combinations at different times.”
The team began the season with Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver at the outside positions. Brock, however, injured his toe in Week 1 and Perrish Cox filled in for him and played well. Cox leads the league in passes defended (10) and is tied for third with three interceptions.
Now all three are back at practice although Brock is still limited with a toe injury and Culliver has a hamstring strain that knocked him out of the Week 7 game at Denver.
Fangio said Ward, the team’s first-round draft choice, would continue to be the nickel cornerback.
Injuries – Ward (quadriceps) went through a full practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday. Linebacker Patrick Willis (toe) and Brock (toe) were the only 49ers who were limited. All 52 players on the active roster practiced for the second straight day.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.