In light of recent events, it appears that Rathman's role has become very important, early on.
Using a high draft pick on RB Glen Coffee and the signing of UDFA RB Kory Sheets, after an extensive background review by the team, gives Rathman two raw pupils to get up to NFL-speed. Don't know about you, but I can't think of a better "pro" for that job. By all accounts, Coffee is very coachable, a veritable sponge. And while Sheets has had his differences with coaches at Purdue, I don't see Rathman having any problem getting and keeping Sheets attention. The two rookies (and Niner fans) are really fortunate to have Rathman as their position coach
Also, other than re-signing FA FB Moran Norris, it seems significant to me that the club has NOT signed a back-up FA FB or a taken a young FB in the draft or UDFA. Maybe I am wrong, but that tells me that the club sees Rathman as the guy who can finally develop Michael Robinson at the FB position. Think about it. Robinson has many of the skills that Rathman had as a FB: high football intelligence, toughness, respect of the other players, excellent hands, a willingness and strong execution in pass protection, a willingness to slam inside, as either a lead blocker or ball carrier, a no-frills approach to the game. If Rathman can develop Robinson to play with his head up in order to find his target in leading the run (as he clearly does on his ST assignments), the club could well have found its long-term FB, who suits the type of ball control offense that the HC wants. Seems to me that Rathman is the key to really tapping into Robinson's talent.
I'm really excited to see Rathman work with these 3 young players.
[ Edited by jimbagg on May 1, 2009 at 1:40 PM ]