Programming note: Jim Harbaugh is scheduled to address the media today at 12:10 p.m. Watch the live stream right here.
SANTA CLARA – There would have been something poetic about running back Marcus Lattimore returning to practice on Monday.
After all, it was exactly two years earlier the then-South Carolina star sustained a gruesome knee injury that included three torn ligaments and a dislocation.
It's been a "long road", as Lattimore recently told CSNBayArea.com. But by waiting a couple of days, the 49ers were not thinking of symbolism. They were thinking in reasonable terms.
As soon as a player on a reserve list is allowed to practice, a 21-day window opens. At the end of those three weeks, a decision must be made whether to promote the player to the 53-man roster, place him on season-ending injured reserve or release him.
If Lattimore’s practice window opened on Monday, the 49ers would have to make a decision on Nov. 16, the day of their game at the New York Giants. Coach Jim Harbaugh said the team would be able to make a better evaluation on a Monday or Tuesday after that game.
Thus, the 49ers are waiting for Wednesday to get Lattimore on the practice field to go through his truncated training camp before being elevated to the 53-man roster for the Nov. 23 game against Washington.
“I’ve been watching him off to the side and I’m excited to watch him out there playing football again,” Harbaugh said. “We saw some of it in the offseason, but I think he’s further ahead from where he was two, three, four months ago and excited to see that progress on the field. I’m looking forward to it.
“I think we can give a little extra contact when we have the pads on for Marcus. Pass protection, sled, hitting sleds and maybe thudding-up a little bit extra outside of the normal practice drills.”
The 49ers have gone with two running backs on their 46-man game day roster for the first seven games of the season. And it does not seem likely that will change when Lattimore becomes available.
With rushing attempts and receptions, Frank Gore is averaging 15.1 touches per game. Backup Carlos Hyde had 7.7 touches through the first seven games. The 49ers currently have no need for a third running back – especially one who will not contribute on special teams.
The 49ers have been patient with Lattimore. They did not rush him back onto the field during training camp. And they waited two extra days to have him begin practice because it was the right thing to do.
Right now, Lattimore appears to be insurance for the remainder of the season. And that’s OK. The 49ers are in no rush. He figures to be a part of the organization for years to come.