One player who has become a bit of a draft crush for 49ers fans is South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore. The Gamecocks star running back suffered a gruesome injury this past season, which means he could find himself tumbling a decent amount in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The latest news likely furthers that to a certain extent. Chris Mortensen is apparently reporting on ESPN that taking Lattimore means you are looking at him for help in 2014, not 2013:
"The medicals on him are not great," said Mort. "Dr. (James) Andrews, who did the surgery, says it's one of the toughest surgeries he's ever had. ... You take Marcus Lattimore, you're taking him for 2014. Nobody wants to shoot down the inspiration for him, but the bottom line is it's going to be a long road."
Lattimore has remained upbeat about his chances to play, but this obviously puts a bit of a dent in that. And yet, maybe the "stars are aligning" for the 49ers to invest a mid-round pick in the former South Carolina star. Making it all the more intriguing is the similar history to 49ers running back Frank Gore, and the fact that Gore has reached out to Lattimore about his injuries.
According to the report linked above, Gore actually talked with Lattimore last year at the behest of 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver (a former teammate of Lattimore). Gore has apparently remained in touch with him since then.
None of this guarantees the 49ers will be selecting Lattimore in the upcoming draft. However, given their large number of picks, and the fact that they already have a rather deep roster, what's to say they don't grab Lattimore and stash him on the PUP list his rookie year? Frank Gore will not be around forever, and the 49ers do not yet know how Kendall Hunter will recover from his torn Achilles.
Drafting Lattimore and placing him on the PUP list to start the season would not cost the team a roster spot. The 49ers are likely to trade some of their picks for future picks, but this would be like doing that with the added benefit of Lattimore learning the offense and getting to work with Gore for a full year. Considering Lattimore was once considered the best prospect in this year's draft class, how can this not be a good idea? Maybe he doesn't work out, but with the glut of picks, is it really a bad idea to roll the dice?
Yep, I've already talked myself into this.