Marcus Lattimore

NFC Links: Harbaugh, Donnell, Prater, Eagles

The 49ers have a very volatile situation on their hands, as tensions between management and head coach Jim Harbaugh are only outmatched by those between the coach and his players. Much has been made about this ongoing situation, but the team was still playing at a high level last week. Their defense suffocated the Eagles’ offense, and the team still looks like a Super Bowl contender despite currently sitting at third in the NFC West.

Seth Wickersham of ESPN profiled Harbaugh, writing that he thrives in chaos and that it doesn’t matter what the atmosphere is in the locker room. His competitiveness could be enough and overcome the tensions and the 49ers could be looking at another deep playoff run.

Here are some more links from around the NFC:

49ers Roster Moves, Martin Update

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that 49ers rookie center Marcus Martin is expected to miss eight weeks of the regular season with a kneecap injury.

Also, Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News writes that the 49ers have trimmed their roster to 75 players after making the following series of moves:

Waived

Released

Released off Injured Reserve

Reserve/PUP List

Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) List

  • RB Marcus Lattimore
  • FB Trey Millard
  • CB Keith Reaser
  • G Brandon Thomas

The players on the PUP and NFI lists are eligible to return to practice after the first six weeks of the regular season or otherwise be placed on a season-ending reserve list. That means, of course, that Bowman and Lattimore will officially miss the first six weeks of the season.

As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee tweets, all seven players that were waived are eligible to be placed on the team’s practice squad.

 

 

Kendall Hunter Tears ACL

The 49ers have collected depth at the running back position, and that depth will be put to the test early with the news that Kendall Hunter suffered a torn right ACL, writes SFgate.com’s Eric Branch. Hunter, who missed five games in 2012 because of a torn Achilles, will now be sidelined for the final year of his rookie contract.

Healthy in 2013, Hunter averaged 4.6 yards per carry as Frank Gore‘s backup. Now, the 49ers will now turn to a group of talented, inexperienced backs, including second-rounder Carlos Hyde, “redshirt” Marcus Lattimore and third-down back/kick returner LaMichael James.

Marcus Lattimore Returns To Field

In what might be his first significant on-field action since suffering the second of two horrific knee injuries, 49ers running back Marcus Lattimore took the field for rookie minicamp drills yesterday, cleared to take handoffs and make basic cuts. NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling writes that Lattimore was expected to sit out minicamp with soreness in both legs, but the second-year back felt well enough to participate.

Lattimore, a fourth-round pick in 2013, spent the entirety of last season on the reserve/NFI list, and can thus participate in rookie camp.

A stacked depth chart at running back lies in front of Lattimore — incumbent starter Frank Gore, 2014 second-round pick Carlos Hyde and 2011 fourth-round pick Kendall Hunter — but long odds have never swayed Lattimore’s efforts. Many projected his career over after multiple torn knee ligaments on two separate injuries, but the 49ers saw enough promise to use a fourth-round pick on him in last year’s draft, and he’s determined to prove them right.

NFC Notes: Eagles, 49ers, Giants, Packers, Saints, Gettleman

Eagles GM Howie Roseman met with the media following the first-round selection of Marcus Smith 26th overall, and Philly.com’s Jeff McLane had seven follow-up thoughts. Most notably, Roseman shared his initial plan of attack. Plan A entailed the team having a list of six players likely to be gone by No. 22 (where the Eagles originally were position prior to the trade down) but worth moving up for. To the best of McLane’s knowledge, that list included Anthony Barr, Odell Beckham Jr., Kyle Fuller, Ryan Shazier, Brandin Cooks and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

When those players were gone, Roseman was prepared to move down, pick up an additional pick and choose the best player available. McLane is ” not convinced Smith was at the top of that list, but of the players there he played a premium position of need and thus was moved to the front.” McLane also spoke to other teams’ representatives whose grades on Smith ranged from second to fourth round.

Here’s several more quick-hitting, NFC news and notes:

  • The Eagles place on emphasis on college graduates, says Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter).
  • The Giants drafted Weston Richburg 43rd overall last night, and what made him attractive to the team was his ability to not only block effectively, but handle the responsibility associated with the position, says ESPN’s Dan Graziano. [Tom] Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese both said the center’s responsibility for handling line and protection calls will increase under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross said Richburg scored an impressive 31 on the Wonderlic test and impressed the Giants in his combine interview with his intelligence.”
  • The 49ers were very active Friday night, making five trades that netted veteran receiver Stevie Johnson as well as running back Carlos Hyde (No. 57), center Marcus Martin (No. 76), linebacker Chris Borland (No. 77) and offensive lineman Brandon Thomas (No. 100). Eric Branch at sfgate.com recaps the team’s busy day here. The 49ers also have seven picks in the final four rounds.
  • The 49ers deep stable of running backs now includes Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Marcus Lattimore and Hyde. James wants more playing time and is open to a trade, but the team has no plans to move him, says ESPN’s Bill Williamson.
  • The Packers are confident Davante Adams is the next in a long line of productive receivers drafted in the second and third round, writes Bob McGinn in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
  • Redskins second-rounder Trent Murphy, whom the team expects to contribute right away as a nickel rusher, “protects the team’s long-term interests at OLB,” tweets NFL Network’s Albert Breer.
  • With the selection of big cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste 53rd overall, the Saints continue to build a “Seattle-like secondary,” writes Larry Holder of Nola.com.
  • The Panthers announced via Twitter that GM Dave Gettleman will draft remotely via Skype today so he can be present for his son’s college graduation.

NFC Notes: Lattimore, Vikings, Eagles, Lions

49ers running back Marcus Lattimore is poised to contribute to the team in a meaningful way in 2014, writes Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. The 2013 second-round pick, who suffered a gruesome knee injury while playing at South Carolina, aims to settle in as the third running back behind Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. Following the defection of Anthony Dixon to the Bills and the 49ers willingness to trade LaMichael James, Lattimore could see ample amounts of playing time, and he seems ready to capitalize on the opportunity. “…I’ve just got to go in there and work hard. I can pass-protect and run the ball. I’ve got to show that,” said the 22-year-old. “If I prove it in practice, I don’t think there’s no excuse why I can’t play. I’m ready.”

More notes from around the National Football Conference:

  • The Vikings‘ pay-as-you-go structure (not giving massive signing bonuses) allows the team to not only have more fluid cap management, but enables them to cut declining players with ease, writes Ben Goessling of ESPN.com.
  • NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah lists Odell Beckham, Kelvin Benjamin, and Brandin Cooks as options for the Eagles with the No. 22 pick (via Bo Wolf of PhiladelphiaEagles.com). While DeSean Jackson obviously needs to be replaced, it would surprise me if Philadelphia doesn’t target defense in the first round, hoping to improve upon their 22nd-ranked unit (according to Football Outsiders) by adding to an abysmal secondary.
  • Justin Rogers of MLive.com, citing this excellent paper by economics professors Richard Thaler and Cade Massey, makes the case that the Lions should trade down from pick No. 10 in the draft and acquire more selections in what is considered a tremendously deep draft class.

Corry On Pay Cut Candidates

In our previous post, we highlighted young stars entering their prime years and poised to land lucrative second contracts. At the other end of the spectrum, Joel Corry of National Football Post spotlighted five veterans who could be asked to take a pay cut:

  • Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey – Will be 36 next season after playing just five regular season contests in 2013 (foot injury). Simply put, Bailey’s cost to the team is not commensurate with his diminished skills, as he’s scheduled to count $10.5MM against the cap next year.
  • Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware – Dallas’ cap woes were detailed last week. At the top of the “To Do” list is Ware, who carries a $16MM cap number as a result of three restructurings. Bothered by an elbow injury which necessitated off-season surgery, Ware managed just six sacks in 2013. Corry says Ware has indicated he’s willing to go down that road again, “but a pay cut is a different story.” If the Cowboys release Ware, the team stands to gain approximately $7.4MM of cap room.
  • 49ers running back Frank Gore – Not unlike catchers in baseball, running backs trend downward beyond age 30. Gore will be 31 in 2014 when he’s scheduled to count $6.45MM against the cap, though he’s considered an “old” 31 given his career workload and injury history. With a strong offensive line and dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick entering his prime, it’s reasonable to think Gore’s production could be had for cheaper, be it in the form of Gore himself at a reduced rate or perhaps 2013 “redshirt” Marcus Lattimore, who is waiting in the wings.
  • Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu – The soon-to-be 33-year-old has the NFL’s highest 2014 cap number among safeties (approximately $10.9MM), but Polamalu’s play has fallen off to the point where his reputation exceeds his performance. According to Corry, “A pay cut could be folded into an extension that lowers Polamalu’s cap number and ensures that he never plays with another NFL team.”
  • Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork – Corry describes the veteran Wilfork’s situation as “precarious” because the final year of his five-year deal weighs $11.6MM against the cap. That number ranks second-highest on the roster behind Tom Brady, and the team has just under $3.9MM of cap room at present time. Wilfork has been a rock, but the Pats cannot afford to devote nine percent of the cap to a 32-year-old run stuffer coming off a torn Achilles tendon injury, especially with the team attempting to re-sign Aqib Talib.