Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports



A long time ago, Kyle Shanahan made a promise to Bobby Turner to hire him to his staff should he ever become an NFL head coach. Shanahan is now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and he stayed true to his promise, bringing Turner with him to coach the team's running backs.

Of course, this created a problem in the eyes of the Niner Faithful. The 49ers already had one of the best and most well-respected running back coaches in the league in Tom Rathman, who also happened to be a legendary fullback for the team. Obviously, the 49ers could not retain two running backs coaches. Shanahan, who respects the 49ers' long and rich history and was a fan of Rathman, wanted to find a way to keep him on the staff. In the end, Rathman simply wanted to coach running backs, didn't want to work in another role or scout, and didn't want to create an awkward situation with the team's new running backs coach. So, with great class, he removed himself from the equation.

Rathman will coach running backs again. Maybe not for the upcoming season since staffs are filled, but he will coach running backs again because he is too strong a talent to not be part of an NFL team.

His replacement in San Francisco is no slouch himself. Turner, who is also well respected around the league, brings 22 years of experience coaching NFL running backs with him. Before that, he had 20 years of experience coaching running backs at the collegiate level. He coached under Shanahan the two seasons he was with the Atlanta Falcons. Before that, he worked with Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, with the Washington Redskins.

On Monday, Peter King of TheMMQB called Turner the Falcons' "unsung loss" and possibly the biggest loss for the Atlanta coaching staff this offseason – other than Shanahan himself.

"Turner's the unsung loss," King wrote. "He's the veteran running backs coach who, back in Denver, made a slew of low-drafted backs (Terrell Davis most notably) play great, and he was vital in the development of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in Atlanta. But I applaud the Falcons. They could have played hardball and kept Turner. But Turner wanted to go with Shanahan—Turner obviously was close with Mike Shanahan—and he becomes a very influential senior adviser (he is 67) to Kyle Shanahan."

Turner will be compensated well for joining Shanahan in San Francisco. "I think it doesn't hurt that the 49ers have rewarded Turner by making him one of the highest-paid (if not the highest-paid) running backs coaches in the NFL, with a salary of at least $625,000," continued King.

Rathman will be missed and his departure may seem to go against the new regime's promise to keep the door open to the 49ers' past greats, but Shanahan tried to do the right thing. He tried to keep his promise and retain Rathman at the same time. The two sides just mutually agreed that it might be best to move on rather than force something that didn't necessarily make sense.

Now, Carlos Hyde, who still seeks his first 1,000-yard rushing season (he was 12 yards shy in 2016), and whoever else remains among the 49ers' group of running backs will have to find success under Turner, who knows how to put NFL rushers in position to succeed.