SANTA CLARA — Marcus Lattimore beamed with pride and excitement inside the 49ers locker room Thursday as he prepared to put on shoulder pads for the first practice of his rookie season.

A year ago, Lattimore thought he'd never play again, after tearing all major ligaments in his right knee during South Carolina's Oct. 27 game at Tennessee.

Recalling that painful day, Lattimore said: "I thought I had to find something else to do. I'd seen my knee and what happened, and there was no way I was coming back from that."

There was a way: grueling rehabilitation, which he also endured a year earlier when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. In April, the 49ers used their second pick in the fourth round to draft Lattimore.

Lattimore has spent his rookie year on the reserve/non-football-injury list, but now the 49ers have three weeks to evaluate him on the practice field. Coach Jim Harbaugh said last week the "plan" remains for Lattimore to sit out this season.

Lattimore said he didn't have trouble sleeping Wednesday night, adding: "I knew this was the day, a special day for me. All the hard work is going to pay off."

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