Tom Rarthman paired with Doug DuBose to star at Nebraska in the early-to-mid-’80s, and the two went on to play for the 49ers in the late ’80s and, in Rathman’s case, through the early ’90s.
In the fall of 1985, DuBose said: ”Tom is the best fullback in the country. He can run. He can catch. Teams can’t key on just one person. If they key on me, Tom cuts inside on traps. If they key on Tom, I get it. They don’t know what to expect.”
Rathman’s from Grand Island, Nebraska, and he won the state high jump championship with a leap of 6 feet 7 inches. He was an ideal complement to Roger Craig for some years, but in 1993, he dislocated his shoulder in the first game of the season against the Steelers, missed eight games, and then in 1994 went south to Los Angeles and the Raiders. He was replaced by William Floyd. After signing with the Raiders, Rathman said: “It was tough on me because I didn’t think that I’d deserved to be put in that type of situation [with the 49ers]. I didn’t feel that I needed to prove anything to anyone. But, obviously the coaches there felt that somebody could do a better job than I could. The way things went, it’s unfortunate that I had to leave (San Francisco). But the structure of the game has changed. You have teams dealing with free agency and salary caps now. I don’t think you’ll see anyone staying with an organization for eight or nine years anymore.”
Like Jerry Rice, Rathman grew up working construction in the summers for his dad: pouring concrete foundations for long hours in the prairie heat. He’d signed a two-year contract with the Raiders, but 1994 was his last playing season. He’s now the running backs coach for the Raiders, after having filled the same role for the 49ers from 1997 to 2002.