SANTA CLARA -- It's been nearly nine months since he sustained the grisly right knee injury that sheared three ligaments
Running back Marcus Lattimore might still be months away from getting on the football field but he said he is feeling better every day as he rehabs at the 49ers' practice facility.
"Getting that confidence back, that's the main thing right now," Lattimore said. "Getting that confidence back and getting stronger and when I get that chance, seize that opportunity.
"Honestly, I feel the improvement every day just in technique-wise. You get the running down, then you start agility, then it translates to football after that. I honestly feel better every day."
The former South Carolina star sustained tears to his anterior cruciate, lateral collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in an Oct. 27 game against Tennessee. He worked out aggressively leading up to the draft in April. And once the 49ers selected him in the fourth round with the No. 131 overall pick, the brakes were applied to Lattimore's rehab.
"I know exactly what was going on because you see cases of guys rushing back and they tear their other one or they tear it again," Lattimore said. "I knew exactly where he was coming from when he said we're going to back off a bit and slow it down and give the knee time to heal. That's what it needs, just time to heal, so when it is time to go, there's no hiccups, no setbacks."
And Lattimore will definitely get all the time he needs. He will start the season on the reserve physically-unable-to-perform list, which makes him ineligible for the first six weeks of the regular season. The 49ers are allowed to promote him to the 53-man roster any time from Week 7 to Week 13. Or they could place him on injured reserve.
No matter how long it takes for Lattimore to get on the field, he acknowledges that he will not know for sure if he's ready to go until he takes his first hit.
"Once you put on the pads and take a hit and you fall on your knee and you get back up," he said. "That's when you know you're ready to go. You can do all the agility drills, training drills, everything you want, but when you get hit, that's when you know."