"Ouch! Anybody got a big ass band-aid? My knee hurts like hell!!!" The video that follows has some gut wrenching moments, so be weary if you've ever been down the old busted knee road (I know I have). Marcus Lattimore Knee Injury
Everybody has their draft thoughts. Red and Gold Nation knows the big names: Star Lotulelei, Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel, Kenny Vaccaro, Jonathan Cyprien, Tavon Austin, Geno Smith, blah, blah, blah..exactly my point here; this draft only has a few game changers, but plenty developmental types that can equal pure red and GOLD. One of these draft types that I would like to focus on today is University of South Carolina product, Junior RB Marcus Lattimore.
The kid has talent, along with 3 major knee surgeries on two different knees (the gruesome knee injury against Tennessee in 2012 was the first injury on his left knee) to go along with an incredible personality and serious drive. Judy Pilkington, employee at API rehabilitation center in Gulf Breeze FL, went as far as to state the following in regard to Lattimore: "He's awesome," she said. "He's just awesome. I'm telling you. We get a lot of good guys here (at Athletes' Performance). He is ... incredible." (Jeff Darlington, NFL.com)". With character like that, I can see the 49ers pulling the strings on Lattimore as early as the second round and as late as the fourth (his talent, regardless of his injury riddled past, is just too overwhelming to slip any further than a late third rounder though).
Injuries can be quite a fickle beast in the NFL, and they've been known to damage ones stock or even completely eliminate them from draft talk, Lattimore being said product. Just too damn bad for the NFL then, because this guy WILL be more than just a talented RB, he has pro bowl blood coursing those determined veins. It will be a big loss for teams that skip on him because of his injuries, but it's going to happen. With all of the informational outlets within the NFL, teams tend to overly focus on things like injuries and failed drug tests instead of god given ability. There are just too many misses in past drafts for me to value anything but my own opinions when it comes down to it (in no way am I bashing; having your educated guesses viewed by the public can be a very difficult thing to tango with and I have the utmost respect for draft scouts (that means you Kiper and Mcshay)).
Exactly what does Lattimore offer to make teams look past his injuries? Tons my friend, tons. Drawing comparisons to Purple Jesus (RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings), Lattimore has an upright running style (conducive to knee injuries; enter scared NFL franchise) and doesn't look towards the sideline for respite, just towards his next victim. He possesses great vision, above average speed, constantly churning legs that pump out the extra yard, good wiggle, excellent hands, the utmost work ethic, and oh yeah, he's smarter than YOU. There really isn't noticeable weaknesses outside of the obvious injury bug that seems to bite annually. Put all of this together, and he is the perfect candidate to adorn the work ethic based trucker shirt that coach Jim Harbaugh fantastically implemented as a tool for success.
The negative Nancy's will cite the glutted up 49ers backfield (Gore, Hunter, and James all have real NFL ability), but the fact remains that after Frank retires, we will need a legitimate #1 that can come in and provide the void we are left with. Lattimore will do that in spades, and if given a shot, will reward the suddenly smart franchise that pulled the trigger on him.
In summary, I'm becoming quite excited for next weeks draft. Lattimore has boat loads to offer the Red and Gold Nation. The 49ers are in a very good position to draft based off of talent instead of need, and it paves the way for them to focus on trading up or down to acquire the targets that they have on their draft board, versus choosing between a larger spectrum of players and going for "what works." Look for the 49ers to either acquire Lattimore with their third round pick, or trade up for a late second round choice and snag him there. March on Red and Gold Nation.
Sean McMahon is the brain child, CFO, CEO, and President of the Red and Gold Nation. Feel free to get his wheels spinning by viewing his blog @nothingbutgold.sportsblog.com, or reach him via twitter, at #49erDefenseWins. San FranSIXco !!!