Okay, it is no secret to any of the 49er Faithful that our beloved beast in the backfield, Frank Gore, is getting close to the end of his career—whether it’s his professional career or his career with the 49ers. That being said, the question now becomes who will be the replacement for Gore in the 49ers run-heavy offense? In his 10 seasons with the 49ers, the 5x pro bowler has only had two sub 1,000 yard seasons, earning his way into the 49ers record books as the 49ers all-time leading rusher. How do you just replace someone of this caliber?
Lattimore could be the next best thing for the 49ers. Looking past the injuries, Lattimore was a steal in the draft, and he is almost the same type of back as Gore. Looking at the size of the two, Lattimore is two inches taller at 5’11 and four lbs bigger at 221. Both of these backs are big, physical runners and they also have the ability to run routes and pass block. In his three seasons at South Carolina, Lattimore averaged almost 100 yards a game, even with the injuries he suffered. Lattimore is a big powerful back, but he is also quick and has the ability to move swiftly around the field. Just like Gore, he is the type of back that loves to run between the tackles, but he also has the speed to run outside the tackles and gain some good yards.
Who else besides a future draft pick would be able to pick up the slack for Gore? Without the injuries, it is very likely that Lattimore would have been a top pick in the NFL Draft. Looking at the other backs on the 49ers depth chart, there are two that have potential to be decent backs in the NFL—Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James. Hunter is the smaller of the two and he just hasn’t been able to get it done for the 49ers in his 4 seasons. LaMichael James, slightly bigger, is very fast and is hard to track. He has the potential to do big things, but unfortunately he just doesn’t seem to be the guy that would fit into the 49ers style of the run game as the main guy. In the NFL, size is a big part of the game and there has only been a few really small backs who have been successful, one being Maurice Jones Drew who is 15lbs bigger than James.
It is hard to make estimations on how Marcus Lattimore will play in his first full season as a 49er this season, but one thing is true—if he can play like he did in college, he will be a force in the backfield. Spending time behind Frank Gore will be a great thing for Lattimore. There is no doubt that Gore is one of the most patient backs in the NFL, and that is one of the reasons he has had so much success. Lattimore has always been a fairly patient back, but getting the knowledge of Frank Gore will make him that much better. Gore will be a free agent in 2015 so this situation is quickly becoming a reality. Marcus Lattimore has the ability to be the next best thing if he can stay healthy, and he could very well be the next big time back for the 49ers.
Just some thoughts. Thanks.