The 49ers have been long-time benefactors of Tom Osborne’s Nebraska football programs over the years. The iconic college football coach won three national titles during his 25-year reign at the helm of Nebraska’s program, and also helped mold a select group of players into future 49ers.
Not only did Osborne recruit Roger Craig and Jamie Williams out of Davenport Central High School in Iowa, but he recruited Tom Rathman out of Grand Island, Neb., a city about two hours away from Lincoln.
“We offered him fairly early and he accepted,” Osborne said of Rathman. “But if he had lived in Chicago or someplace, he would have had 30 or 40 schools after him.”
Instead, Rathman stayed close to home and starred at Nebraska, becoming one of the top fullbacks in the nation before being named to the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1992.
Aside from being a stellar football player, Rathman was also an accomplished basketball player and a state champion in the high jump.
“Tom was a fine athlete in high school,” Osborne said. “I believe he high jumped 6-foot-8 or 6-foot-9. … He was a very hard-nosed guy who played hard all the time and was a great player for us.”
Rathman went on to play nine seasons in the NFL, including eight with the 49ers, before starting a coaching career of his own. Rathman is currently in the fourth season with San Francisco in his second stint as the team’s running backs coach.
Tags: Tom Osborne, Tom Rathman
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