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Lattimore, Okoye get attention at 49ers rookie minicamp

The SportsXchange

As the 49ers began their rookie minicamp Friday, most of the attention was on two people -- one who probably won't be able to play this year and another who has never played football before.

Although he was not even on the field, running back Marcus Lattimore may have been the most impressive player in the 49ers' three-day rookie minicamp.

And British Olympic discus finalist Lawrence Okoye, signed as a free-agent defensive line prospect after phenomenal workouts and despite no football experience, continued to be a source of curiosity.

Lattimore, drafted in the fourth round out of South Carolina by the 49ers despite a horrific knee injury last October, impressed doctors during an extensive medical examination at Stanford Thursday.

"Everything looks good structurally with all the guys that we drafted," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday. "The ACL looks really good for Marcus. We have to take a step back in terms of some of the cutting because we want that inside of the knee, the lateral side of the knee, to heal fully."

Lattimore served notice as a freshman in 2010 that he was a potential future first-round pick in the NFL draft when he rushed for 1,197 yards, caught 29 passes for 412 yards and scored 19 touchdowns.

He tore up his left knee in 2011 but was looking great again last season before becoming the victim of one of those ghastly, don't-watch-the-replay injuries in which his right leg was obviously flopping the wrong way. He tore three ligaments.

Respected orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who operated on the 49ers' franchise-record rusher Frank Gore twice when he was at the University of Miami and, most famously, repaired Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson after his 2011 knee injury, predicted that Lattimore's recovery would shock people. And so it has.

Still, the 49ers will be cautious and Lattimore is expected to open training camp on the non-football injury list, a technical misnomer based on the injury not happening in the NFL. Both Harbaugh and Lattimore say they will be patient.

"If he doesn't play this year, he doesn't play," said Harbaugh.

"I think that would be fine," said Lattimore, who is taking part in meetings at the 49ers rookie camp. "Whatever happens these next three months probably will determine that. I'm going to continue to keep working hard, and if I'm called upon, I feel like hopefully I'll be ready."

"I feel like whatever's best, I'm going to go with that. We have a lot of great guys on our team -- Kendall (Hunter), Frank (Gore), Anthony Dixon, LaMichael (James). And I know I can learn a lot from those guys."

Harbaugh was asked how he finds a starting point for a football virgin such as Okoye.

"Well, everybody is starting with their first step, so, he's right in there," Harbaugh said. "Defensive line, special teams right now. And all of us, we've all got a long road ahead, tough road to hoe. But, we've got to be patient along the way and it starts with the first day."

Harbaugh said he was excited more than concerned about Okoye's lack of experience.

"I'm excited by that fact. I'm excited and I know our coaches are. [Defensive line coach] Jim Tomsula is. The challenge for us as coaches, it's a challenge for him. And you're wanting to see him be successful. He was a rugby player until he was 18 years old, and then he just took up being a discus thrower at the age of 18. And two years later he's throwing in the Olympics. So, that bodes well. That was a shift in what he did and picked that up and did very nicely at it."

Earlier Friday, the team announced it signed five draft picks: fifth-round defensive tackle Quinton Dial, sixth-round linebacker Nick Moody, and seventh-round quarterback B.J. Daniels, tackle Carter Bykowski and cornerback Marcus Cooper.

Dial signed for $2.34 million with a signing bonus of $181,000, Daniels' signing bonus was $46,512, and Bykowski and Cooper each got $45,896. Each was a four-year deal.

Also, former Oakland Raider and Green Bay Packer defensive back Charles Woodson said his chances of becoming a 49er are "pretty much out the door."

Woodson visited the 49ers on March 13, one day after the Packers released him. But since then the team signed former St. Louis Rams safety Craig Dahl to a three-year, $5.25 million contract on March 16 and traded up 13 spots in the first round to select LSU safety Eric Reid.

Woodson is still offering his services as a free agent.

"Everyone knows I still want to play," Woodson told NFL Network on Thursday. "We really haven't heard from anyone at this point, really, much after visiting San Francisco. I left there and then they ended up signing another safety, a guy from St. Louis. And they got the young kid in the draft. So that's pretty much out the door."
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