49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

January 7, 2009
Rathman accepts job as RBs coach

All Tom Rathman needs to do is sign on the bottom line. The 49ers have offered Rathman the job as running backs coach and Rathman has accepted the offer. Team officials made no official announcement because Rathman has yet to sign the contract but they did say the two sides had agreed to terms. Coach Mike Singletary and general manager Scot McCloughan met with the 49ers' former fullback today. Rathman has been the Raiders running backs coach for the last two seasons but his contract recently expired.

I spoke with Rathman at about 5:40 p.m. He said he sat down with Singletary today for perhaps two hours and it quickly became clear they had the same philosophy on offense. "It doesn't matter what system you're running, if your approach isn't intense, there's no way to impose your will on your opponent," he said. Asked to describe his approach, Rathman said, "Straight forward. It's about results. And I'm looking for results on every play."

Rathman likely could have landed a job in Seattle with ex-49ers assistants Greg Knapp and Jim Mora, Jr. but said that staying in the Bay Area -- he has a daughter in high school -- was paramount. And before you ask, no, Rathman said that Singletary and McCloughan didn't tip their hats about whom they were planning to hire at offensive coordinator. "It never got mentioned," Rathman said. "We taked about mentality, the type of mentality I would bring to the job."

Rathman looks like an ideal fit at the position. He won two Super Bowls with the 49ers, paving the way for tailbacks while scoring 34 touchdowns -- 26 on the ground and eight through the air. Rathman coached the 49ers' running backs from 1997 to 2002 before joining Steve Mariucci in Detroit in 2003. Last season he returned to the Bay Area to oversee the Raiders running backs under offensive coordinator Knapp.

Shortly after being named head coach, Singletary dismissed his offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and running backs coach. Now he's looking for the right combination of replacements who will implement an offense that includes, in his words, a running attack "that can impose its will on the defense."

The 49ers have yet to interview any outside candidates for the offensive coordinator position, although former Rams head coach Scott Linehan is on their list of potential prospects. Linehan has a solid track record as an NFL offensive coordinator, first in Minnesota and later in Miami. Linehan was able to lift both offenses - especially the running game - in his first season as offensive coordinator. The 49ers have taken a methodical approach to the offensive coordinator search and likely will resist hiring someone until the playoffs are over.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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