Jim Harbaugh today said he expects running back Marcus Lattimore, who spent his rookie season recovering and rehabilitating from a devastating knee injury suffered in college, to be healthy for the start of the offseason and to compete for a job at running back.
Both Lattimore, a fourth-round pick in 2013, and defensive end Tank Carradine, a second-round pick, suffered ACL tears during their 2012 college seasons and essentially had red-shirt seasons for the 49ers as rookies. Lattimore also suffered tears to his PCL and MCL as well as a dislocated kneecap. Harbaugh expected that both players would compete for roles in the upcoming season.
"I have great hope for that," he said. "There's a path there. Nobody owes anyone a career in professional football. Your career is literally your business. But I have great faith that those men have what it takes."
Harbaugh also said that cornerback Chris Culliver (ACL) and nose tackle Ian Williams (broken ankle) were recovering well from their season-ending injuries. Culliver has resumed sprinting while Williams has been off crutches for several months now.
Lattimore will compete with Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James for playing time during the offseason. Another young running back, Jewel Hampton, spent the 2013 season on the practice squad. Carradine will compete with other backup linemen like Quinton Dial, Tony Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs, a restricted free agent in March.
* He said that it may be two or three weeks before the 49ers know how NaVorro Bowman's MCL tear has healed. At that point, the team would repair Bowman's ACL tear. He said he had no way of knowing whether Bowman would be ready for the start of the regular season.
* He said that Frank gore broke his right ring finger. Harbaugh wasn't sure when that injury occurred. But Gore did not play any of the 49ers' five final snaps after he caught a 17-yard reception just before the two-minute warning.
* Harbaugh confirmed yesterday's Sac Bee story that Mike Iupati would not need surgery on a broken fibula. Instead, Iupati will need a cast and should be ok in eight weeks.
* He confirmed that the Browns - presumably his friend, general manager Mike Lombardi - have contacted him regarding 49ers assistants. The Browns are the only team without a head coach. ESPN reported that they were interested in defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Harbaugh would not say which assistants the Browns asked about.
* Another reason not to watch the Pro Bowl: The league announced today that Brian Orakpo will replace Ahmad Brooks in Hawaii. That means none of the 49ers who were voted to the first team will attend, most because of injuries. Left tackle Joe Staley, for instance, suffered a compound, dislocation of his thumb Sunday. He missed one snap just before halftime.
Jim Harbaugh insisted there was no harm intended when a Seahawks player ran into a 49ers staffer on the sideline on Sunday. During the play, Seahawks special teamer Jeremy Lane was forced deep into the 49ers sideline where he made contact with a 49ers staffer, believed to be an assistant strength coach, and briefly was knocked to the ground. Harbaugh said that individual was standing behind him and did not intend to make contact.
"It was bang-bang. I could be called for a witness on that," Harbaugh said. "... You don't know which way to go other than to hold your ground and protect yourself. His reaction would have been mine as well. I would welcome to be called and say the same thing on the record."
Harbaugh said the league has contacted the 49ers about the incident.
- Matt Barrows