Lattimore finds inspiration from Gore's travails

Instant Analysis: 49ers select Marcus Lattimore

Lattimore finds inspiration from Gore's travails
April 27, 2013, 11:45 am
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Yeah, he contacted me. He called me and then we actually talked on the phone.
—Marcus Lattimore on Frank Gore

SANTA CLARA -- Running back Marcus Lattimore had the worst thoughts in the aftermath of his devastating right knee injury.

South Carolina's star running back sustained a dislocated knee and tears to three of the four knee ligaments: anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and the lateral collateral in an October game against Tennessee.

Lattimore said he initially feared that there would not be an NFL career waiting for him.

"Right after it happened, I doubted myself. And I lost hope," Lattimore said.

Then, Lattimore found inspiration in words from others, including Frank Gore, who sustained two ACL tears while in college. Now, Gore and Lattimore are teammates. The 49ers selected Lattimore in the fourth round of the draft with the No. 131 overall pick.

[MAIOCCO: 49ers land Lattimore with late fourth round pick]

Here is what Lattimore had to say during his conference call with reporters who cover the 49ers:

"It's still surreal to me," he said. "This is a great opportunity for me with a great organization. I just can't wait to get there. I've always been a fan of those guys, just their style of play and the way they do everything. And it's just been great. I'm so excited to get to work with all the great running backs and everybody on the team. It's going to be a great experience."

How well do you know Frank Gore?
"I've really only talked to him a few times after my injury, and just through text. I know he's a great guy. I know he's a hard-worker, and I know he's determined. I know I'm going to get to know him a little bit better once I get there. So I'm real excited about that."

Did he contact you?
"Yeah, he contacted me. He called me and then we actually talked on the phone."

Were you put in touch by Chris Culliver?
"Chris got my number and gave it to Frank Gore. That's how we got in contact."

What did Frank say to you?
"He just asked me how I'm handling the situation because he's been through the same thing with the injuries and all. He just told me to keep a positive mindset. And that's what I've been doing these past five or six months. I feel like that's why I'm doing so well in my rehab."

Style-wise, there are a lot of similarities between you and Frank?
"Definitely. He can catch the ball. I feel like I can catch the ball well. He can pass protect. He's an all-around back. And that's what I'm trying to do emulate my style of because with his success, there's no question that it works. So that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to get better in all three phases."

Where are you right now in your rehab?
"I'm running sprints, doing everything I can. I've running straight ahead, been doing box jumps, and been doing a lot of different things to get you back on the field. It's been great. I've been working hard."

How have you been handling this and how did it influence your decision to declare for the NFL early?
"I just thought about my future and my love for football. I love football and I want to play football. I knew if I had a chance to go to the Andrews Institute, API in Pensacola and rehab twice a day and let Dr. (James) Andrews do my surgery, I could get back out there and do the things I do. I wanted to put all my time into football. I only have a few more classes on my degree, so I plan on going back to get that, too."

A lot of people think you'll have a redshirt rookie year. Is that something you anticipate?
"We really haven't even talked about that. I don't have any clue. But my main goal is to in there and work hard and go in there and learn the offense. If I'm ready to play, I'll play. If not, then I'm not. I know it'll be the best decision. The coaches and the doctors will make a great decision. I'm not worried about it."

Did you talk much to the 49ers during this process?
"Yeah, I actually did talk to them over the phone. I talked to them a few times. I talked to them at the combine. I had a formal meeting at the combine. It went real well."

Who did you talk to on the phone, running backs coach Tom Rathman?
"I actually talked to the head scout a few times, and, yes, I did talk to coach Rathman."

Who made the call to you today?
"It was actually coach (Jim) Harbaugh. And then I had a chance to talk to the GM (Trent Baalke), and then I had a chance to talk to coach Rathman. And then I got to chance to talk to PR, the media relations."

Because the depth of the 49ers backfield and your injury, is this a good situation for you?
"Yes, sir. And I get a chance to learn from a lot of the great running backs they have. Those guys are all great guys. I can't wait to a part of that running back family. Just the whole team. The whole team is great."

Did Frank Gore talk about his two knee injuries in college and he hasn't had any issues with his knees in the NFL?
"He didn't really talk about that, but he knew he could come back from what he had and he worked hard. He was determined to come back. It's a great situation for him. He came into the league and he's been doing his thing for a while. He kept that positive mindset, but he didn't go into that he really hasn't had any injuries. But everything happens for a reason. I realize that."

Does he serve as inspiration, and what other guys have you looked to during your ordeal?
"Yes, he is definitely an inspiration. And Willis McGahee. And a lot of different guys who've had knee injuries, even defensive guys I've talked to. Those guys are all inspirations to me because of what they've been through and how they came through it. They put God first in their life, and that's what I'm doing.

Was the conversation with Frank shortly after your injury?
"He actually called me right after it happened, maybe two or three days after it happened. That's when we got in contact."