49ers running back Marcus Lattimore -- who slipped to the fourth round of the NFL Draft after a devastating, potentially career-ending injury at South Carolina last year -- has signed a four-year rookie contract, the team announced Friday afternoon.
Lattimore was on track to become a top draft pick, but against Tennessee last October, he tore three ligaments in his right knee (he had injured his other knee the season before), and it was gruesome enough to think it might be a career-ender.
Instead, the 49ers saw the potential.
"Marcus Lattimore -- unique player, unique person," coach Jim Harbaugh said after the team drafted Lattimore. "Can't say enough about the mental toughness this young man has displayed. Nothing keeps him down. He's dazzling as a runner, electric as a ball carrier, and we're betting that he'll be able to overcome the setback with the injury.
"I love the aggressive mental approach he has taken through this whole process, but we're going to slow down the aggressive physical things and make sure Marcus is 100 percent healthy before he goes out there on the field. If he doesn't play this year, then he doesn't play this year. But I think if anybody can overcome what he's been through, it's him."
If he doesn't play this season, Lattimore is on record saying that'd be OK.
"I think that would be fine," he said earlier this month. "Whatever happens these next three months will probably determine that. I'm just going to continue to keep working hard and if I'm called upon, I feel like I'll hopefully be ready."