49ers TE Cameron Latu Will Require Knee Surgery

The 49ers were hoping to add some quality depth behind star tight end George Kittle when they drafted Alabama’s Cameron Latu in the third round of this year’s draft. Unfortunately, the rookie’s NFL debut will be delayed quite a bit as he recovers from the meniscus injury he sustained in the team’s preseason matchup against the Chargers, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports.

Latu is set to undergo surgery to repair the damage from the injury that should require him to miss significant time, although it’s unclear as of now just how much time that will be. This lack of specific information on Latu’s eventual recovery puts San Francisco in a tough spot.

With the roster cut deadline rapidly approaching, the 49ers have a few options on how to approach Latu’s roster status. If they put Latu on injured reserve now, it would allow the team to retain one other player on the initial 53-man roster to start the regular season, but Latu’s rookie season would effectively become a redshirt year as he would be required to sit out the current season, barring a release and a re-signing.

The other option would see the 49ers dedicating a spot to Latu on the 53-man roster then immediately placing him on IR. This would allow the team to activate Latu later on in the season once he recovers, but it would require them to cut an extra player to make room for Latu. They could re-sign that extra player after shifting Latu to IR, but that would assume that the player has not been picked up by another team by then.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan has said that the team will take a little more time to consider the timeline of Latu’s injury before making a decision, according to Angelo Guinhawa of Clutch Points. A lot of other roster decisions will factor into the call on Latu. If an updated prognosis shows the potential for a timely return, Latu could find himself making the 53-man roster before heading to IR.

In the meantime, Charlie Woerner and Ross Dwelley will continue to serve as backups to Kittle. Kittle dominates the snap share by a mile, but the eventual re-addition of Latu to the position room could provide some more options for San Francisco in the future.

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