The San Francisco 49ers announced Thursday that they have hired Tom Rathman as the team's running backs coach. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
This marks Rathman's second coaching stint with the 49ers, after having served as the team's running backs coach from 1997 to 2002.
As the running backs coach for the Raiders, the team ranked 10th in the NFL with an average of 124.2 rushing yards per game in 2008, after ranking sixth in the league a year prior with an average of 130.4 rushing yards per game. Rathman was instrumental in developing running back Justin Fargas, who rushed for 1,009 yards in 2007 and 853 yards in 2008, playing in 14 games each season.
While with the Lions in 2004, Rathman helped running back Kevin Jones rush for 1,133 yards, including an NFL leading 825 yards on 153 attempts over the final seven games of the season. Jones' rushing total ranked as the highest among rookies in the NFL that year and was the best rookie season by a Lions running back since Barry Sanders in 1989.
In five of Rathman's six seasons with the 49ers, San Francisco's rushing attack finished in the top 10 among NFL teams, including top-ranked seasons in 1998 (159.0 ypg) and 1999 (130.9 ypg), to go along with a second ranked unit in 2001 (140.3).
In 2001, Rathman was instrumental in guiding running back Garrison Hearst, a two-time NFL Comeback Player-of-the-Year, to his second career Pro Bowl selection. He also guided running back Charlie Garner to his second consecutive 1,000-yard season and his first career Pro Bowl selection in 2000.
Prior to his coaching career, Rathman enjoyed an NFL playing career that spanned nine years (1986-94) as a fullback, with the first eight of those as a member of the 49ers. Rathman helped lead the 49ers to two Super Bowl Championships and seven NFC West titles. In 1989, he led all NFL running backs in receiving with 73 receptions for 616 yards. He played his final season with the Los Angeles Raiders in1994. Rathman finished his career with 2,020 rushing yards to go along with 320 receptions for 2,684 yards and 34 total touchdowns.
A three-year letterman at Nebraska, Rathman entered the NFL as a third-round pick by San Francisco in 1986.
Prior to beginning his coaching career with San Francisco, he helped rebuild the Menlo College (CA) program by serving as the offensive coordinator in 1996 after coaching as the running backs coach at Serra High School in San Mateo (CA) in 1995.