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Roger Craig - nate_64_9ers
Simply stated, Roger Craig was THE FIRST double-threat player out of the backfield. His talent revolutionized the sport and changed everything that the running back position could be. Hundreds have attempted to copy his formula for success over the years, but few have even come close.
A Nebraska prospect, Craig's talent was recognized by the legendary Bill Walsh at the 1983 draft. He was projected by Walsh to be the "prototype" running back for his complex offensive schemes and philosophy. That offense, later dubbed the west coast offense, forever changed the game and the rest has become undeniable NFL history. Walsh's schemes utilized the running back more than anyone had ever seen before and defenses were left confused and bewildered. So as Walsh changed the game on paper, Craig changed the game on the field.
Craig and Joe Montana
Craig was a versatile specimen the likes of which the game had never seen before. He was a three time Super Bowl champion and the first to ever score three touchdowns in a Super Bowl. He never played for a losing record team and his teams failed to reach the playoffs only once during his career. His most famed accomplishment was becoming the first running back to ever surpass both 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. He was also well known for his dedication off the field to physical conditioning, something that Jerry Rice and countless others have credited as a major influence in their own careers. As of today, Craig remains the only running back to lead the NFL in receptions for a single season, the only running back to record over 100 receiving yards in a Super Bowl, and the only player to be elected to the Pro Bowl as both a fullback and a halfback. In eleven NFL seasons he totaled 8,189 rushing yards, 566 receptions for 4,911 receiving yards, and amassed 13,143 total yards and 73 touchdowns.
With those signature high knees and catfish eyes, Roger Craig was an NFL superstar and irreplaceable contributor to the "Team of the Decade" during his prime from 1984 to 1990. Although the Hall of Fame has yet to induct him, nobody can deny the integral role he played in the legendary 49ers offense of the 1980's. Hopefully justice will be served and some day soon the NFL will acknowledge the great impact Roger Craig had on both his team and the entire sport.