The San Francisco 49ers took a chance on Marcus Lattimore.
The running back's college career at South Carolina ended with a knee injury so serious that he nearly lost his leg. But the Niners still used a fourth-round pick on Lattimore in the 2013 draft, planning to redshirt the former All-American for a year before introducing him to their backfield.
Lattimore never came close to getting on the field, however. His knee was irreparably damaged and he abruptly retired from football last October.
Now serving as an ambassador for his alma mater, Lattimore recently told SB Nation of the hardships he went through during his brief NFL career.
"I went out there and put a smile on my face like everything was alright," Lattimore said. "But it was hell. Every day."
Lattimore dealt with constant pain in the surgically repaired knee, turning to the powerful and potentially addictive pain killer oxycodone to help him fight through. He eventually came to the conclusion that he had plateaued in his recovery.
"My running backs coach was like, 'Good job! Good job!' " he said. "My offensive coordinator -- I was catching balls out of the backfield -- was like, 'Man you look good!' I was like, 'You have no clue.' "
The SB Nation profile paints Lattimore, still just 23, as someone who has come to terms with his star-crossed career. You hope it's true.
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