We all saw it. One of the worst and most gruesome leg injuries in football history happened to Marcus Lattimore in a game against Tennessee in October of last year. The severity of the injury (dislocated right knee and three torn ligaments) put his career in jeopardy but Lattimore nonetheless opted to enter the NFL draft.
A once coveted and projected first-round pick fell to the 49ers at number 131. Why would the Niners take a chance on a running back that suffered such a devastating injury? Well, for one the 49ers ended up with 11 total selections in the draft, so why not take a chance on a guy who rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns as a freshman at South Carolina? The knee injuries that ended both his 2011 and 2012 seasons are huge concerns, but with stories like that of Willis McGahee and Adrian Peterson, there’s reasonable expectations that Lattimore will make a full recovery and be able to contribute to the team.
The organization itself doesn’t have to look much further than in it’s own backfield to find hope. Frank Gore is the franchise leader in rushing yards and touchdowns. Gore himself suffered injuries to both of his knees while in college at Miami. The same questions raised about Gore are now being brought up about Lattimore, but if the 49ers are smart and patient there is no reason why Lattimore can’t accomplish the same level of success that Gore was able to achieve.
Although Lattimore does not posses lighting-fast breakaway speed, he is still a very powerful runner who does his damage between the tackles. This bodes well for a 49er offense that is built around the offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage and being physical. Lattimore will also break tackles and will frequently turn losses into gains. His running style has warranted comparisons to Arian Foster. Lattimore also does well is pass protection which gives him the ability to become a featured three-down back.
With Gore, LeMichael James, and Kendall Hunter already in the backfield there is doubt that Lattimore will even get a chance to play this upcoming season. Smart move if you’re the 49ers. Let the kid get to 100 percent first and soon he can prove that the 49ers ended up with the steal of the 2013 draft.