Former South Carolina Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore was the most talented running back in the 2013 NFL draft class. Unfortunately, suffering serious knee injuries in back-to-back seasons left his NFL future in question and significantly dropped his draft stock.
The San Francisco 49ers decided he was worth the risk late in the fourth round, selecting Lattimore with the No. 131 overall selection.
Read on to see how the Niners' newest running back will do in the NFL.
When healthy, Lattimore is a special talent. He is a well-rounded back who has a terrific combination of size, speed, power and agility. While durability concerns will prevent him from being a three-down back at the next level, he is a dangerous runner both between the tackles and on the perimeter.
Lattimore runs a bit upright, but he has great vision and hits holes hard. He is also a good receiver out of the backfield and a solid pass-protector with the size and strength to pick up blitzers in pass protection.
The biggest concern for Lattimore, of course, comes down to whether he can stay healthy and enjoy a long-term NFL career. He tore his ACL in his left knee in 2011 and tore three of four ligaments in his right knee last season.
He has the potential to be a very good running back, but it is unknown whether he will be able to return to full form after such significant knee injuries.
As he continues to recover from injury, Lattimore may be forced to begin the 2013 season on the physically unable to perform list or spend the season on injured reserve.
In addition to joining a backfield that already features Frank Gore, LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter, he is unlikely to make any significant fantasy impact in 2013.
Lattimore has the talent to break into the top three of the 49ers depth chart, but unless he is truly 100 percent come training camp, chances are good that he will be kept on PUP or IR status for the 2013 season.
That will be done in order to save a roster spot and enable him to truly make a full recovery.
Pick Analysis: A
The 49ers had 13 picks to work with and few major needs, so they could afford to take a chance on an injured but very talented player in Lattimore.
His first-round talent makes him well worth a late fourth-round pick, even with such a serious injury concern. They can afford to wait on him for a full season if needed.
If they are patient with Lattimore and eventually find a spot for him, he has star potential.