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Marcus Lattimore, San Francisco 49ers strike contract

The San Francisco 49ers announced Friday that they had signed fourth-round pick Marcus Lattimore to a four-year contract. NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported that Lattimore's contract has "no extra injury protection."

Head coach Jim Harbaugh has called the former South Carolina superstar the biggest steal of the 2013 NFL Draft, but the 49ers have scaled back his running and cutting as he recovers from three torn ligaments and a dislocated right knee.

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Lattimore told The Associated Press on Friday that the most difficult part of his recovery has been doctors and trainers pulling back on the reins. "I just want to train as hard as I can," Lattimore said. "But I understand why they want me to slow down."

Although it's too early to say with certainty, signs point toward a redshirt year -- a scenario which Lattimore has said he'll accept. Frank Gore is locked in as the feature back, LaMichael James is bulking up in preparation for an expanded role and Kendall Hunter's recovery from Achilles surgery is going smoothly.

Lattimore also told The Associated Press that Gore, who also overcame major knee surgeries in college, has been his inspiration for a comeback.

"It was great to finally meet him in person," Lattimore said. "He's been wonderful to me."

Even if he has to wait a year to contribute at the NFL level, Lattimore is one of the most intriguing draft-day fliers in recent memory.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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