The fourth-round draft pick had a noticeable amount of sweat as he walked off the team’s practice fields on Tuesday. Although the former South Carolina standout running back has been placed on San Francisco’s Active/Non-Football Injury List, Lattimore looked like he worked up quite a sweat during his rehab work as his rookie teammates and select veterans got in a pre-training camp practice.
“I honestly feel better every day,” the No. 131 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft told a handful of reporters.
Lattimore, South Carolina’s school record holder for rushing touchdowns (38) and total touchdowns (41), is all about building up his confidence while he rehabs from a devastating knee injury that hurt his draft stock.
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“Getting that confidence back, that's the main thing right now,” Lattimore said. “Getting that confidence back and getting stronger and when I get that chance, seize that opportunity.”
Lattimore is nine months removed from the gruesome injury he suffered on a routine perimeter run against the University of Tennessee. It also happened to be the second major knee injury of his promising career. Despite his eagerness to move on from the setbacks, the 5-foot-11, 221-pound running back isn’t rushing his way back to the field. Instead, Lattimore trusts the guidance of the team’s medical staff.
The three-time All-SEC honoree doesn’t want to rush back to action after seeing some of the pitfalls of star athletes coming back to action too soon. Lattimore wants to let his knee heel completely before pushing for a significant role on the 49ers.
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Asked if he would be able to test his progress in training camp practices, Lattimore said “it’s most likely” going to be during the regular season. The 49ers will likely place the young running back on the physically-unable-to-perform list to start the season and decide if they should activate him after the first six weeks of the regular season. The team has a window from weeks 7-13 to activate the rookie running back or they could designate him to the Injured Reserve list.
Lattimore believes careful rehabbing will help his comeback, but the most important test will be the first contact he takes from an opposing defender.
“You won’t know until you get hit. Bottom line,” Lattimore said. “Once you put on the pads, take a hit on your knee, fall and get back up, that’s when you know you’re ready to go.
“You can do all the agility drills, all the training drills, everything you want, but until you get hit, that’s when you know.”