On Monday, the Pro Football Writers of America announced San Francisco 49ers running backs coach Bobby Turner as the recipient of the Paul Zimmerman Award. The “Dr. Z” Award is given as a lifetime achievement for an assistant coach in the NFL.
Coach "Bobby T" has over 40 years combined of coaching experience at the professional, collegiate and high school levels. He has coached alongside 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and his father, Mike, since he got his start in the NFL back in 1995 with the Denver Broncos.
Turner helped the Broncos record 11 individual 1,000-yard rushing seasons during his tenure, a total that includes a four-year streak of having a different 1,000-yard rusher each year (2003-06). During that span, the Broncos produced the most rushing yards (32,829) and the most total yards (86,523) in the NFL.
After spending 15 seasons in Denver as the team's running backs coach and garnering two Super Bowl championships and three AFC West titles with the club, Turner spent four years (2010-13) as the assistant head coach and running backs coach of the then-Washington Redskins after Mike was selected as the team's head coach in 2010.
In 2015, Turner joined Kyle in Atlanta as the Falcons running backs coach for two seasons where the Falcons ranked fifth in the league in rushing yards per game (120.5) and tied for third in the NFL with 20 rushing touchdowns in 2016 en route to their Super Bowl LI appearance.
Turner joined Kyle with the 49ers in 2017 and spearheaded a running back unit that led the NFL with 23 rushing touchdowns and ranked second in rushing yards per game (144.1) in 2019. That season, the 49ers ground attack featured three players with 500-or-more rushing yards in a single season (RB Raheem Mostert – 772; RB Matt Breida – 623; RB Tevin Coleman – 544) for just the second time in franchise history (1954 - three players).
Throughout his career, Turner is responsible for overseeing three of the top nine rookie rushing seasons in the NFL since 1970 [Alfred Morris – 1,613 rushing yards in 2012 (fourth); Clinton Portis – 1,508 rushing yards in 2002 (seventh); Mike Anderson – 1,500 rushing yards in 2000 (eighth)].
The Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman Award is named for Zimmerman, who covered the NFL for 29 years as Sports Illustrated's lead pro football writer. Zimmerman's writing career was cut short by a series of strokes in November 2008 that left him unable to speak, read and write, but his impact on the writing and football industries was profound. He's widely considered one of the best football writers of all time.
Turner and Las Vegas Raiders defensive line coach Rod Marinelli are the 17th and 18th recipients of the Dr. Z Award, which was instituted by the PFWA in 2014. Other 2021 nominees for the Dr. Z Award were the late defensive line coach Bobb McKittrick, the late defensive coordinator Floyd Peters and the late defensive line coach John Teerlinck.
Here are the previous PFWA's Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman lifetime achievement award recipients:
|2014||Jim Johnson, Howard Mudd, Fritz Shurmur and Ernie Zampese|
|2015||Dick LeBeau, Tom Moore and Dante Scarnecchia|
|2016||Monte Kiffin and Wade Phillips|
|2018||Joe Bugel and Emmitt Thomas|
|2019||Gunther Cunningham and Mike Westhoff|
|2020||Bill Arnsparger and Romeo Crennel|
|2021||Bobby Turner and Rod Marinelli|