Two injured 49ers draft picks, Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial, hit the practice field for the first time this week. So what's the status of the third member of that group, running back Marcus Lattimore?
Jim Harbaugh said at the time of the draft the plan was to have Lattimore rehabilitate for the full season so he can come back as strong as ever in 2014. That's still the plan. But that doesn't necessarily mean the 49ers won't get to see what Lattimore can do with a ball in his hands.
The running back said this week he's hoping to put on shoulder pads at some point and join his teammates in practice. That's a possibility. Players like Lattimore who are on the non-football injury list are allowed a three-week window to practice with their teams any time between Week 6 and Week 11. At that point, they either are elevated to the active roster or shut down for the rest of the season.
That means Lattimore conceivably could practice beginning in mid November. "I still might get a chance to practice this year, and it might be soon," Lattimore said. "I look forward to it. I'll be head over heels when that happens."
Of the three injured draft picks, Lattimore had, by far, the most devastating injury. He suffered a dislocated right kneecap and three torn knee ligaments on Oct. 27. He said he's accepted the the long-term approach the 49ers are taking.
But he said he also stays motivated by preparing himself for the scenario - however unlikely it is - that the 49ers could need him on the 53-man roster later in the season. San Francisco currently has four healthy tailbacks on the active roster: Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon and LaMichael James. A fifth, Jewel Hampton, is on the practice squad.
Asked what he considers the carrot in relation to the monotonous rehabilitation work he's doing this year, Lattimore said, "I'm working to whenever they put me on the field. It's definitely practicing this year. And maybe playing. I don't know what's going to happen."
- Matt Barrows