The San Francisco 49ers have had a lot of turnover on the coaching staff over the past decade, but one man who has hung around is Tom Rathman. The 49ers running backs coach was on the staff from 1997 to 2002, and then returned in 2009. He has coached with Mike Singletary, Jim Harbaugh, and Jim Tomsula in that time.
He faces a new coach, with the 49ers hiring Chip Kelly this week. Kelly is working on developing his assistant coaches, and he is expected to meet with Rathman early next week, according to Matt Maiocco. There are no guarantees Rathman will be kept, or even want to stick around, but plenty of 49ers fans are hoping he sticks around.
Rathman benefited from getting to work with Frank Gore much of his career, but this past season was an impressive one for the running backs in spite of numerous injuries. The numbers were not spectacular, but given the off-the-street talent that was repeatedly brought in, it might have been the best work by Rathman and the other coaches.
The team opened the season with Carlos Hyde as the starter, Reggie Bush and Mike Davis as the back-ups, and Jarryd Hayne as a potential change-of-pace option. Over the course of the year, injuries ravaged the unit, with Hyde and Bush both ending up on season-ending IR before it was all said and done. Mike Davis struggled early, and then a fracture put him on injured return with the return designation (he came back Week 17). The team brought in Shaun Draughn and got five solid games from him before he went on IR. They then added DuJuan Harris and got two solid games from him to close out the year. Add in the occasional performance from Kendall Gaskins, and there were a lot of bodies out there.
The 49ers head into the offseason with a dramatic change in coaches, which will make for interesting considerations for the offense. Hyde will be back from his foot injury, Davis is back from his hand injury, Hayne is locked up for the next couple years, and Harris is even under contract for another year. Draughn is a free agent, but his performance might interest the team in bringing him back, but again, with potential changes to the offensive philosophy, who knows what the coming year will bring at the running back position.