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SANTA CLARA -- Running back Marcus Lattimore spent his entire rookie year getting ready for the 2014 season.
Although he was officially out for the season after remaining on the non-football injury list in early December, Lattimore said his physical condition would have allowed him to play late in the season.
“I’d say about December, I felt like I could’ve played,” Lattimore said.
Of course, the 49ers never gave any thought to playing Lattimore, whose final season at South Carolina ended with a career-threatening dislocated knee and three torn ligaments. The 49ers invested a fourth-round pick in Lattimore with the future in mind.
Lattimore knew the situation from the beginning. He never gave any thought to campaigning to get his shot in live game action, he said.
When asked if Lattimore will be available for full participation in the 49ers’ offseason program, which can begin April 21, 49ers coach Harbaugh said, “I believe so, yes. I think this has been an outstanding year for Marcus. Tough at times, but I think great things will happen for him.”
Lattimore practiced fully with the team during a three-week window, which concluded Dec. 6. He spent the final six weeks attending meetings and working out under the direction of the 49ers’ strength-and-conditioning staff.
“I know I’m going to be ready physically (for the offseason program),” Lattimore said. “I’m going to be excited and just got to be myself.”
Lattimore’s performance next season will determine the level at which he will be asked to contribute to the 49ers in 2014. And after spending one season around the team, he knows what it will take for him to earn playing time from running backs coach Tom Rathman.
“The biggest thing with Tom is pass protection,” Lattimore said. “That’s the biggest thing you got to know. If you can’t protect the quarterback, you can’t play.”