Marcus Lattimore has missed the first three days of training camp after taking part in practices in May and June. But 49ers general manager Trent Baalke insists the running back has not encountered a setback in his return from reconstructive knee surgery.
"He's coming off, as we all know, a horrific injury," Baalke said Saturday. "And we want to make sure, as does he, that he's 100 percent mentally and physically ready to go to help this football team, and to give himself the best chance to compete at a high level. ... But as far as setbacks, no."
Lattimore suffered the injury to his right knee in October 2012 while at South Carolina and the damage was so severe that doctors wondered if he'd even be able to walk in the first year after the surgery to repair it. Lattimore practiced with the 49ers during the spring but suffered a hamstring strain in his right leg that kept him from running at full speed.
Before training camp, team doctors placed him on the non-football injury list, a designation that means his issues remain related to the 2012 injury suffered in college. The running back has been doing the same types of exercises on a side field that he did last season. Baalke suggested Lattimore's staggered start this year is partially mental in nature.
"There's a mental hurdle and a physical hurdle you've got to overcome," he said. "And he's close. How close? That remains to be seen."
How do doctors and coaches know when that mental hurdle has been overcome?
"I think the players tell you," Baalke said. "Just like Michael Crabtree last year when he was coming back (from an Achilles' tendon tear). It really came down to when he believed in his mind he was ready to go. You can't tell them how they feel. As a player, they know when they're ready."