Tom Rathman won't be part of the 49ers' coaching staff this season, but he will be featured at Levi's Stadium.
Rathman, who spent eight seasons in San Francisco’s backfield and another 14 as the team's running backs coach, will be added to the team hall of fame at the stadium. Rathman also appeared in 14 postseason games, including two Super Bowls, when he was a player and rushed for 287 yards and four touchdowns in the postseason.
A press conference will be held Wednesday. Rathman will also travel to Philadelphia to announce the 49ers second-round pick of the draft on Friday. Former defensive lineman Justin Smith will announce the team’s third-round pick.
“Tom Rathman embodies everything this organization wants in its players, coaches and staff,” said 49ers CEO Jed York. “Throughout his more than two decades with our team, Tom set a tone for the 49ers both on and off the field.”
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York said his uncle, former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., will gush about all of his former players. His grandfather, Edward DeBartolo Sr., who bought the 49ers in 1977, had one favorite. “And it was Tom,” York said.
The two shared a love of horse racing and would travel the country to see races together. “One year, I asked about the (Kentucky) Derby,” Rathman recalled. “And he got me tickets. Actually, he met me there.”
Rathman’s favorite player to coach was Frank Gore, who he said on Wednesday was on track to reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I look at him like a father," said Gore, who is now with the Colts. "He came into my career at the right time. If he didn’t coach me the way he coached me, making me look at the big picture of football, I don’t think I’d still be in the league. He helped me become a complete player. You wanted to make him look good. I wanted to make him proud of me – of how I was playing and how I did.”
Rathman, 54, will not be on staff this season after Kyle Shanahan hired another long-time running backs coach, Bobby Turner, for the job. The 49ers offered to find another role for Rathman, but he was leery about undermining Turner.
Rathman said he would sit out this season with the hope of joining another squad next year as its running backs coach.
The Edward J. Debartolo Sr. Hall of Fame was established in 2009. Recent inductees include Roger Craig, R.C. Owens, Gordy Soltau, John McVay, George Seifert and Charles Haley.