When the San Francisco 49ers drafted South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore in the fourth-round (No. 131) of the 2013 NFL Draft, I knew it was a draft day steal. A player that was highly regarded as a top 10 pick before suffering multiple knee injuries for the second consecutive season, Lattimore’s draft stock spiraled down faster than a machine drilling for oil.
So with one man’s trash becoming another man’s treasure, the 49ers struck gold as they landed a running back with the potential to produce Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson type of numbers. A selection that was made in the fourth-round, the 49ers were one of a few teams that had the luxury to take a chance on the talented but oft-injured running back. Now, as Lattimore is set to play in his first live action in the NFL, the question remains how will 49ers OC Greg Roman use him?
A coordinator that loves to smash-mouth his way, it will be interesting to see how many carries Lattimore will get in what will be essentially his rookie season. There is no secret that RB Frank Gore’s age is catching up to him, as he no longer has the breakaway speed to be a home-run threat, so finding a player that can keep Gore’s legs fresh is a must, enter Lattimore.
And if you are hoping for RB Kendall Hunter or RB LaMichael James, both of those players are not considered three-down backs in my book, leaving the door open for Lattimore to relish that role. At 5-foot-11 and 221 pounds, Lattimore has the agility, quickness, and strength to be a bull between the tackles. And if Lattimore hits the second-level look out, as Lattimore’s size will be too much to handle for any defensive back to bring down one-on-one.
Aside from Lattimore’s physical presence, it’s his vision that makes him such a great running back. A player that understands angles, Lattimore often takes advantage of linebackers that over-pursue allowing him to cut back and gain an extra three to five yards. Not to mention, Lattimore has moves-on-moves, do not be surprised if you see Lattimore use a spin move while finishing up with a locked stiff-arm as he runs to the endzone.
With Roman having yet another weapon at his disposal, it will be fun to see how he uses Lattimore as he should be able to spell Gore throughout the season. A two-headed monster, look for both Gore and Lattimore to benefit as I predict Lattimore to have a stat line similar to 125 carries for 600 rushing yards and five touchdowns in his first NFL season, while making 31 other NFL teams pay for not taking this Pro Bowl talent.