Running back Marcus Lattimore is ready to return to the practice field at last, ready to forget the devastating knee injuries, surgeries and countless hours of rehab.
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday that Lattimore would be on the field beginning Wednesday, starting the team's 21-day window to determine whether to activate him to the 53-man roster or place him on season-ending injured reserve.
Lattimore can't fathom not playing and making his debut with San Francisco after all this time.
San Francisco's 2013 fourth-round draft pick was eligible to return after Week 6. He spent his rookie season last year on injured reserve after tearing three major ligaments in his left knee in October 2012 at South Carolina. Harbaugh had said he was likely to begin practicing after the team's bye this past weekend and have his health evaluated during this coming stretch before the Nov. 18 deadline for a decision on his status.
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"A big moment," Lattimore said Monday. "Just try to put together a couple consistent practices, just so they know I'm good and they trust me to go out there and play. It's been a long time, but I'm excited about it. It's going to be fun. It's a blessing, that's what it is."
Lattimore is one of a handful of San Francisco reinforcements the 49ers could have back on the field during the season's second half.
Nose tackle Glenn Dorsey returned to practice Monday from a torn left biceps muscle that required surgery. The Niners (4-3) got back to work after their off week to begin preparing for Sunday's home game against NFC West rival St. Louis.
Linebacker Aldon Smith has served seven games of his nine-game suspension for violations of the NFL's substance-abuse and personal-conduct policies.
"The back end of the season," Lattimore said. "Aldon, Glenn Dorsey, a bunch of weapons coming out. We plan on making a big run."
Lattimore realizes how eager he will be and that adrenalin will kick in once his cleats hit the grass, but he plans to balance that energy with a bit of caution.
"I've got to, I've got to control it, but I've also got to go out there and be myself," he said. "Run like I know how to run and just go out there and play football. The game hasn't changed. At the same time, I've got to pace myself and relax."