# 44, Tom Rathman
Like many 49er fans growing up during the 80’s, there were a lot of potential stars to follow. The easy ones, like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott were slam-dunks, to mix sports metaphors…but the true devotees also liked the role players. Harry Sydney. Keena Turner. Michael Carter. John Frank. Lots of other guys to put on that list. But perhaps by definition, a fullback is a role player by profession. Most of the time, he blocks for the star running back – in Rathman’s case, that was almost always Roger Craig another guy I would put on that list if his fumble against the Giants in the 1990 NFC Championship still didn’t haunt me. (Though I suppose that game is more memorable for Leonard Marshall’s hit on Montana, still the most devastating hit I’ve ever seen. It hurts thinking about it.)
Anyway, Rathman was my guy…and a lot of others. He didn’t just block, he had insanely soft hands for a brute, and caught a lot of important passes, and when called upon to run, mowed over people. But what I loved – and I suspect what others did too – was the way he ran when he had the ball. Rathman probably ran out of bounds without taking a hit during his career, but I don’t remember it – he always lowered his helmet and ran straight into anyone trying to tackle him. Those were the years when he and WR John Taylor perfected the straight-arm, and I can remember scores of runs where Rathman just shoved defenders to the turf as he scampered by them. The dude was great.
I’m reminded of this because – and I didn’t even know he was a coach at all – Rathman is the current RB coach of the Lions. Now, given how Kevin Jones performed this year, that isn’t exactly an inspiring resume. But, after Mike McCarthy leaves, there is a rumor that Rathman might be a candidate for that job. I’m not sure whether he can do it or not, that’s for Mike Nolan to figure out. But I do know that getting Rathman back into the 49er family on its own would be a huge positive.
Speaking of McCarthy, coaches everywhere need to hire his agent. This is a guy who led the WORST offense in the league, and he’s going to parlay that into one of the best coaching jobs out there? I mean, if it were the Jets, that would be one thing…but wow. I wouldn’t be jumping for joy if I was a Packers fan, I’ll say that.