Running Is The Name Of The Game
May 7 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
Tom Rathman made a name for himself in the Bay Area as a 49ers’ back who was a punishing hitter, sure footed runner that could catch out of the backfield. He was everything the 49ers wanted in a fullback and everything that Roger Craig could have hoped for in a lead blocker. Today, Rathman is rarely talked about in connection with the success of the organization. But make no mistake; he plays an extremely large role in it.
Rathman has been the 49ers running backs coach since 1997 and under his tenure the 49ers have been among the top running teams in the league - particularly recently. Rathman has been instrumental in the development of players like Garrison Hearst, Kevan Barlow, Charlie Garner, Fred Beasley, and Terry Jackson, all of whom have seen success coming out of the 49ers backfield.
Rathman has also juggled players like Marc Edwards and Tommy Vardell bringing them success in San Francisco. Working along side of coach Steve Mariucci, Rathman is able to exercise his talents because of Mariucci’s fascination with the run game. Mariucci has insisted on a balanced offensive attack since arriving with the 49ers, and with the help of Rathman, he’s been able to do just that.
While some will call Mariucci conservative, the running game has proven to help keep quarterbacks healthy, and when you have the type of players that the 49ers of recent history have had in the backfield, there’s very little wonder why the team is so dependent on the run. Make no mistake about it though; they’d be much worse off with someone other than Rathman in charge of the offensive backfield.