San Francisco -- Rookie running back Marcus Lattimore said he hopes to go through his first practice with the 49ers next week.
Lattimore, who is currently on the non-football injury list, said he hasn't officially been given word that he'll be cleared for practice. But Tuesday is the last possible day to trigger a three-week window during which players on the NFI list can rejoin practice. The former South Carolina star suffered a devastating injury - a dislocated right kneecap and three torn knee ligaments - on Oct. 27, 2012. He's accepted the 49ers' long-term approach for his recovery and knows his chances of playing this year are very slim. But he also has said that the carrot in relation to the monotonous rehabilitation work he's been doing is to join practice with his teammates.
Lattimore has yet to don pads and put on a 49ers uniform.
"It would be important to have my mind ready for the next year - real excited about it," he said.
Lattimore said he's been running at full speed, cutting like an NFL running back and picking up as much as he can from Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter and position coach Tom Rathman in the running backs meeting room.
"I've learned more in these four months than I've ever learned as far as how the defense plays, how to read fronts, how to read linebackers, coverage ...," Lattimore said. "I know so much about the game in the last four months, (more) than I've learned in the last 18 years. So it's been big."
Now he just wants to be able to put some of that knowledge to practice, even if it's for three weeks, "Everything feels good," he said. "I should be out there."