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Colts hire 49ers legend Tom Rathman as running backs coach, per report

Rathman is former 49ers player and coach, and could come with Frank Gore implications as well.

The Indianapolis Colts are hiring Tom Rathman to be the team’s running backs coach, according to a report from Alex Marvez of Sporting News. Rathman won a pair of Super Bowls as a do-it-all fullback with the 49ers, and has had multiple stints as the team’s running backs coach (1997-2002, 2009-2016).

He was not retained when the 49ers hired Kyle Shanahan and he did not coach for the 2017 season. He’s now joining the coaching staff of Frank Reich, the newest head coach in Indianapolis. Rathman, 55, played eight seasons with the 49ers and one season with the then-Los Angeles Raiders. As a coach, he’s taught running backs with the 49ers, Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders.

This is obviously notable for the 49ers connection, but it has also renewed speculation that veteran running back Frank Gore could rejoin the Colts. Gore, 34, is himself a legendary former 49ers player who is set to hit free agency at the start of the new league year.

Gore has spent the past three seasons with the Colts, rushing for 967, 1,025 and 961 yards, respectively. He has 13 rushing touchdowns in three seasons with Indianapolis, as well as six receiving touchdowns and receiving yardage totals of 267, 277 and 245. He’s still running strong, still making life tough on opposing defenses, even if he’s slowed down and is well past the normal sell-by date for NFL running backs.

Many have suggested that Gore would be a good pickup for the 49ers as a change-of-pace back — a role he was supposed to fill for the Colts before it was evident they had nothing else at the position — and it’s one I definitely support.

But now the thought is that Gore could fit back in with the Colts now that Rathman is the running backs coach. Gore has been vocal about his appreciation for Rathman, and has credited the coach with all kinds of growth, as both a player and a person. This is just speculation, but it seems to make sense, especially if the Colts are also serious about upgrading the position and can have someone else alongside Gore.

Wherever Gore ends up, I’ll always wish him the best, and I personally hope Rathman finds nothing but success wherever he goes.