Fans Hope a Legend From the 49ers’ Dynasty Years Returns to Franchise

Elijah Mitchell

Getty 49ers' lead rusher Elijah Mitchell could have a new running backs coach next season.

While there’s been no confirmation from the San Francisco 49ers or head coach Kyle Shanahan, the franchise is expected to be without running backs coach Bobby Turner in 2022.

First reported by Matt Barrows of The Athletic on Monday, February 28, then followed by Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area on the morning of Tuesday, March 1, the longtime NFL position coach Turner is not expected to return to the 49ers’ coaching staff.

Maiocco said a league source informed him that the 72-year-old Turner “is stepping away.” However, Maiocco noted in his report “There is no indication Turner is retiring, and the 49ers have not commented on Turner’s official status.”

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If there’s no Turner, it puts Shanahan in a position where for the first time since being named head coach, he’ll be without his first RB coach hire.

Now, this leaves 49er fans wondering who could be the suitable fill-in choice. And some 49er fans have taken to social media to let it be known that for one more time, the franchise should consider bringing a familiar face and legend in 49ers’ lore back to the Bay.

Fans Want 1980s 49er Legend to Return

Tom Rathman is who several 49er fans hope to see fill the spot that is soon to be vacated by Turner.

Better known as the man who once blocked for Joe Montana, cleared the road for Roger Craig and went on to win half of the 49ers’ 1980s four Super Bowl titles. And who had two runs as a position coach for the 49ers.

Here’s who hopes the now 59-year-old Rathman has another 49ers run in him.

Another fan hopes to see the iconic fullback return.

Even east coast news reporter Dave McKinley of WGRZ in Buffalo offered the 49ers a suggestion:

One more fan hopes to see Rathman’s return:

Rathman has had Multiple Stops in the Bay

Rathman is still considered a beloved figure in the Bay Area for bringing this blue-collar, physical style to the “West Coast offense” during the late 80s and early 90s:

While he’s yet to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he’s in the franchise’s Hall of Fame:

But along with plowing through defenders during his fullback years, Rathman has put on a coaching headset and went on to become a running backs coach following his NFL career — with two coaching stints with the team he had his glory years with.

From 1997 to 2002, Rathman took his first coaching job through the team he played eight seasons for. He went on to produce a 1,000-yard rusher named Garrison Hearst in his first season as the coach of the backfield. The following season, Hearst put together his best NFL season to date: 1,570 yards under Rathman’s watch.

Charlie Gardner (1,229 yards in 1999 and 1,142 in 2000) also benefitted from Rathman’s coaching. The only time Rathman didn’t produce a 1,000-yard back during his first tenure was in his last season with the 49ers in 2002.

Rathman then spent his next two coaching stops with the Detroit Lions (2003 to 2005) and Oakland Raiders (2006 to 2008). Kevin Jones was his 1,000-yard back (1,133 yards in 2004) in the Motor City while Justin Fargas (1,009 in 2007) was his lead back in Oakland.

But in his next tenure with the 49ers, he helped spark the career of future lead back Frank Gore — who went on to eclipse the century mark in five seasons that Rathman coached him from 2009 to 2015.

Could the ‘Niners Pull it Off & Lure Rathman Back in?

Current state of Rathman coming back: It doesn’t look like it’ll happen.

Barrows was another who doesn’t think the 49ers will add Rathman, responding to a tweet by saying “The new RB coach likely will be Anthony Lynn (assistant head coach).”

There’s also this: The 49ers and Shanahan would have to coax Rathman out of coming out of retirement should they pursue the 49ers’ legend.

If it’s not Rathman, Shanahan will likely stay with the theme of adding a new title for his current staff members and hand the backfield to Flynn.

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