This offseason has seen an assortment of discussions ranging from draft talk to trade talk to positional analysis to the Jimmy Raye offense. In fact, most of these topics have been discussed numerous times. That's all well and good, but there's one topic of sorts that I haven't noticed much discussion on: running backs coach Tom Rathman.
Rathman coached the 49ers running backs from 1997-2002 before heading to Detroit and Oakland. Now he's back, coaching the backs in an offense that would seem to be tailored to them. While we really don't know much of anything about the 49ers offense at this point, we hear a lot of the cliches like "smash mouth football" and "strong rushing attack." In general, I'd imagine most of us anticipate a heavy dose of the running backs, even amidst any aerial attack. If that's the case, Tom Rathman's guys are going to be front and center. One would imagine that would mean Rathman will be there with them.
I guess the first question I have is what exactly does the running backs coach do? Anybody want to take that one on? I can honestly say I really don't know. Does Rathman work with them on spotting the holes, proper footwork, blocking and that sort of thing? If a running back is successful in a given season, which of the coaches can rightfully claim credit? The offensive coordinator for devising the game plan or the running backs coach who worked with the running backs?
One reason for the quiet is due to the gag order the 49ers appear to have implemented with their assistant coaches. Aside from Mike Singletary, Greg Manusky and Jimmy Raye are the only assistants to speak with the media. Nonetheless, I'm curious whether people think we should expect something out of Rathman's running backs that would be different than production under past RB coaches. Or is that even something we can really anticipate? Maybe we should consider a combination of Rathman and offensive line coach Chris Foerster. Or maybe this is all just a bit too complicated for my pea-sized intellect.
Just for the heck of it, I found a feature on Rathman over at YouTube that I've posted after the jump. It's basically someone filming the tv screen so the quality is kind of poor, but it's still a cool video.