The San Francisco 49ers welcomed running back Marcus Lattimore to practice on Wednesday, opening up his 21-day practice window. The 49ers can activate him to the 53-man roster at any point over the 21 days, but after 21 days, they either have to activate him, release him, or place him on season-ending injured reserve.
This marks the second time Lattimore has been in the practice window. The 49ers did the same thing last year, but at the end of the three weeks, they ended his season. This was an expected move, as the plan was to effectively red-shirt him for the season.
This time around, however, it would seem like the team would look to activate him at the end of this stretch. Nobody has said specifically what the intention is, so we are left to speculate to a certain degree. However, it sounds like the team is doing a bit more to try and get him more acclimated to game conditions. Jim Harbaugh said the team would put him through the equivalent of a 3-week training camp, or at least, as best they can do it under the circumstances. According to this report from Matt Barrows, they are trying to get him used to more of the physicality. During training camp, things get a little more physical than during regular season practices. It sounds like Lattimore is getting a little extra work to better approximate this kind of scenario.
On Wednesday, Lattimore talked about what he was hoping to get out of the practice sessions. He talked about wanting to see consistency, and continue building his confidence. The mental aspect seems to be the biggest thing at this point given that his knee has basically had two years to get better. And taking those first real hits will be the next significant hurdle.
I set up a poll below to get a sense of what people are expecting from Lattimore. Rather than ask for predictions on performance, I figured I would ask more about how frequently people expect to see him active on game day over the final two months of the regular season. This does not mean he will see action, but being on the game-day 46 is a big deal compared to just being activated to the 53-man roster. The 49ers have nine games left. I included "7+" as an option to cover him being activated before the end of the 21-day window.
How many games will Lattimore be active this season? I might ask this again when and if he is officially activated from the NFI list. I know some people think there is a chance he still will be shut down, so I'll be curious to see how opinions vary between now and that potential point in time.