Jim Harbaugh this week said he expects running back Marcus Lattimore, who spent his rookie season recovering and rehabilitating from a devastating knee injury suffered in college, to be healthy for the start of the offseason and to compete for a job at running back.
Both Lattimore, a fourth-round pick in 2013, and defensive end Tank Carradine, a second-round pick, suffered ACL tears during their 2012 college seasons and essentially had red-shirt seasons for the 49ers as rookies. Lattimore also suffered tears to his PCL and MCL as well as a dislocated kneecap. Harbaugh expected that both players would compete for roles in the upcoming season.
"I have great hope for that," he said. "There's a path there. Nobody owes anyone a career in professional football. Your career is literally your business. But I have great faith that those men have what it takes."
Harbaugh also said that cornerback Chris Culliver (ACL) and nose tackle Ian Williams (broken ankle) were recovering well from their season-ending injuries. Culliver has resumed sprinting while Williams has been off crutches for several months now.
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Lattimore will compete with Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James for playing time during the offseason. Another young running back, Jewel Hampton, spent the 2013 season on the practice squad. Carradine will compete with other backup linemen like Quinton Dial, Tony Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs, a restricted free agent in March.