Of all the places that South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore could have landed in the 2013 NFL Draft, San Francisco felt like the most natural fit.
The 49ers had a boatload of picks to play with; a starting running back in Frank Gore who overcame a pair of knee injuries himself; and, thanks to the presences of Gore, Kendall Hunter and speedy youngster LaMichael James, did not need a running back to step in and play big minutes.
Everything fell into place for that scenario, with the 49ers nabbing Lattimore late in Round 4, at No. 132 overall.
When he was fully healthy, Lattimore was one of college football's most complete and electrifying running backs. He rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns his first season, then averaged 5.0 and 4.6 yards per carry in 2011 and '12, respectively. But he also suffered two devastating knee injuries, the latest coming midway through last season.
Though he's wowed doctors and scouts alike in his rehab this offseason (even receiving an ovation from those scouts after working out at a pro day), Lattimore may not be able to get on the field for game action in 2013. He turned pro, in part, because he would be able to better rehab his injury by focusing on it full-time and with the help of an NFL training staff.
So, this is a pick that may not pay off in the immediate future. In all likelihood, Lattimore probably is looking at starting the year on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, then trying to take some snaps in the second half of the season.
As mentioned above, though, the 49ers are far from desperate at the running back position, especially with James' emergence as a legitimate threat last season. They can allow Lattimore to heal on a relaxed timetable. And that patience may be rewarded in a big way.