Friday, May 17, 2013

Lattimore inspired after first meeting with Gore

It remains to be seen if Marcus Lattimore is Frank Gore’s heir apparent.

In 2013, though, it appears the 49ers’ fourth-round pick will be the Pro Bowl running back’s shadow.

After meeting the eight-year veteran for the first time Monday, Lattimore hatched a plan for acing NFL 101 during his rookie season: He’ll fix his gaze on Gore, an ideal mentor who is humble, hard-working and possesses an off-the-charts football IQ.

“He’s a very detailed guy,” Lattimore said in a phone interview today. “You can see why he’s so successful by the way, even now, he’s still always asking questions in meetings and doing the right thing. He’s one of the best running backs in the league and he’s had so much success. You want to see what he does to be that way. I’ll definitely be following every move Frank Gore makes.”

Lattimore, who is one of 40 draft picks at the NFL Rookie Premier in Los Angeles this week, spoke with Gore on the field Monday during the 49ers’ “football school” practice and they also talked during a team meeting.

Lattimore and Gore initially connected over the phone about six months ago — a few days after Lattimore tore three ligaments in his right knee in a game against Tennessee. They were put in touch by 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver – Lattimore’s teammate at South Carolina – and Gore’s encouragement came at a time when Lattimore wondered if he’d play football again.

Gore’s hang-in-there message resonated because he’d traveled the same road as Lattimore, who tore the ACL in his left knee in 2011. Gore tore the ACL in both knees at Miami and slipped to the third round of the 2005 draft. Their rookie seasons, however, could differ. Gore had 127 carries in his first season, serving as Kevan Barlow’s backup. Meanwhile, Lattimore may not play until 2014.

Lattimore recently met with 49ers director of sports medicine Jeff Ferguson and team medical director, Dr. Daniel Garza. Lattimore said they “readjusted” his pre-draft rehab program, which is now less aggressive.

“I know they’re going to lead me in the right direction,” Lattimore said. “So I’m all good with the plan that we have.”

Last month, Jim Harbaugh suggested Lattimore and second-round pick Tank Carradine, who is coming off a torn ACL, rehabbed too aggressively leading up to the draft. Harbaugh has also raised the possibility of keeping Lattimore off the field in 2013.

If Lattimore is forced to be a spectator, he’ll have a bit more time to focus on Gore, the running back with whom he shares a similar past. Lattimore, of course, hopes the similarities extend to their NFL careers.

“I think we’re already building a good relationship,” he said. “I want to learn from the best and he’s the best.”


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