49ers Mailbag: Lattimore more important in '15 than '14

49ers Mailbag: Lattimore more important in '15 than '14
August 7, 2014, 11:30 am
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Jim Harbaugh promised Lattimore will be on the team 'in some form or fashion' this season, but it does not mean he’ll ever get on the field.
Matt Maiocco

Programming note: For complete postgame reaction from the 49ers-Ravens exhibition game, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight at 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

BALTIMORE – The value of the 49ers’ trip to the East Coast for the exhibition opener against the Baltimore Ravens will likely come over the weekend during three practices behind closed gates in Owings Mills, Maryland.

You get the idea that the coaching staffs are more interested in seeing their teams in the scripted practices to follow than Thursday night’s practice game.

We enlisted assistance from friends on Facebook to supply questions for this edition of 49ers Mailbag. Here we go . . .

What is a realistic time frame to see Marcus Lattimore in action? (Jr Munguia)
Lattimore had his sights set on this game for his return to football. And after the first couple days of full-squad practices, Lattimore was hopeful to get activated from the non-football injury list for the second week of practices.

Lattimore is not eligible to play Thursday night. And it’s unlikely the 49ers would activate him to practice this weekend against non-teammates.

[REWIND: Harbaugh: Lattimore will have spot with 49ers]

General manager Trent Baalke said on July 26 that Lattimore was “close” to being cleared. “How close?” Baalke followed up. “That remains to be seen.”

The 49ers probably do not need Lattimore this season. But he could be counted on to make a significant contribution in 2015. Coach Jim Harbaugh promised Lattimore will be on the team “in some form or fashion” this season, but it does not mean he’ll ever get on the field.

Will Jimmie Ward have the same impact Eric Reid did in 2013? Will he have significant playing time this season? (Bryce Holt)
Ward will certainly have an opportunity to play a huge role in the 49ers’ defense. He will not be an every-down player. If he wins the nickel job, as expected, he’ll play about 60-percent of the 49ers’ defensive snaps. On those key third downs, Ward will be on the field to cover the slot receiver. He’ll have an opportunity to make a big impact on the season.

[GALLERY: Ten 49ers to watch in exhibition opener vs. Ravens]

Who's looking best at corner? (Ben Shore)
In the early days of training camp, it was clearly Tramaine Brock. He’s the 49ers’ best cornerback. But he’s been out for a week with an ankle sprain. Chris Culliver is the 49ers’ second-best cornerback.

After that, there’s been a lot of guys who have shown promise. Chris Cook, Perrish Cox and Darryl Morris, and rookies Dontae Johnson and Kenneth Acker have looked solid. Right now, Cook looks like the team’s third best outside corner. Cox and Morris have both looked good as the nickel back, as they compete against Ward for that job.

[REWIND: Fangio 'very hopeful' Ward will excel in 49ers nickel position]

Who's looked better? Borland or the underdog, Skov? (Nick Tyler)
Chris Borland is having a good camp. He looks better-suited to stepping in and playing. He’s around the ball a lot, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said recently that he’s taking too many unnecessary gambles. Borland was an instinctive player at Wisconsin, but he would be wise not to stray from his assignments, if he wants to win playing time as a rookie. Shayne Skov was undrafted due to concerns about his speed. Sure enough, Borland has been better in coverage thus far in camp.

Will Anthony Davis be ready for week 1? If so, how effective will he be since he has missed a lot of training camp already? (PJ Ota)
Davis took to Instagram on Wednesday to declare that he’ll be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 7 against the Dallas Cowboys.

[MAIOCCO: From strength to concern, questions surround 49ers O-line]

He sustained a left shoulder injury in Week 3, but did not have surgery until April. Yes, it’s a concern that he has missed so much time in the offseason and training camp. There is bound to be some rust as he works himself back into football shape.