San Francisco 49ers rookie running back Marcus Lattimore won’t play in a game this season, but the former South Carolina star took a big step forward Tuesday when he was cleared to begin practicing with the team.
According to CSNBayArea.com, Lattimore and offensive lineman Luke Marquardt—also on the NFI list—were cleared Tuesday, but Marquardt is not expected to see any practice time.
Lattimore has been on the reserve/non-football injury list all season, which prevents players from participating in practices. Being cleared for practice allows Lattimore a 21-day window to work out with the team, after which he will be placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
Lattimore was considered a top running back prospect in college, until his junior season was ended by a horrific knee injury against Tennessee last October. Lattimore sustained tears to three ligaments in his knee—the anterior cruciate, lateral collateral and posterior cruciate—but opted to enter the NFL draft anyway.
He was picked in the fourth round by the 49ers, who were fully aware that any contributions from Lattimore would come at a later date.
He has attended meetings, but his on-field work has been limited to rehab sessions on the side during practice.
Lattimore said it was important to him to see some action to help prepare for 2014. He said he’s learned a lot since being with the team and was eager to put some of that knowledge to work on the practice field.
“Just to get a feel of it and how everything’s going to be,” Lattimore said. “It’s different. You can learn it all you want until you go out there and do it. It’s really nothing you can really grasp. It’ll be important to have my mind ready for the next year—just real excited about it.”
Lattimore was a prized recruit coming out of Byrnes High School in Duncan, S.C., and his decision to commit to the instate Gamecocks was seen as a huge recruiting coup for South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.
He didn’t disappoint, rushing for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Gamecocks as a true freshman in 2010. South Carolina went 9-5 and won the SEC’s East Division title, losing to eventual BCS national champion Auburn in the SEC title game before losing to Florida State in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta.
However, Lattimore’s sophomore year was cut short. He tore the ACL in his left knee in the team’s seventh game at Mississippi State and was lost for the season. In those seven games, Lattimore had piled up 818 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He returned for his junior year and had 662 yards and 11 touchdowns, but was injured in South Carolina’s ninth game against Tennessee.
He is South Carolina’s career leader with 38 rushing touchdowns and is sixth all-time for the Gamecocks with 2,677 career yards.
His 246 rushing yards against Navy as a sophomore is the fourth-highest single game total in school history and he set a school record with 40 carries against Florida as a freshman. His 1,197 yards as a freshman is third on the school’s all-time single-season list and is a freshman record.