Source: Assistant Turner steps away from 49ers' coaching staff


INDIANAPOLIS -- Legendary running backs coach Bobby Turner is stepping away from the 49ers’ coaching staff, a league source told NBC Sports Bay Area early Tuesday morning.

Turner, 72, has been a central figure of the successful running games while serving on the coaching staffs of Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan over nearly three decades.

There is no indication Turner is retiring, and the 49ers have not commented on Turner's official status.

The 49ers recently hired former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn in likely anticipation of the move. Lynn comes to Kyle Shanahan's staff as assistant head coach. He is expected to work closely with the team's running backs.

Lynn played running back for six NFL seasons, including two years with the 49ers and his final three with the Denver Broncos under Turner's tutelage.

Turner widely is considered one of the great running backs coaches of all time. Last year, Turner was named the winner of the Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award for excellence as an assistance coach, as presented by the Pro Football Writers of America.

Turner is known for his meticulous evaluation of draft prospects, which includes numerous calls and interactions with prospects he identifies as good fits for the scheme. Turner oversaw three of the top rookie rushing seasons in NFL history: Alfred Morris (1,613 yards) in 2012; Clinton Portis (1,508) in 2002; and Mike Anderson (1,500) in 2000.

He was the only position coach to work with Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Davis during his seven-year NFL career. Turner often has gotten extraordinary results from under-the-radar running backs. Davis was a sixth-round draft pick.

The 49ers selected two running backs in the 2021 NFL Draft, including Elijah Mitchell in the sixth round out of Louisiana-Lafayette. Following his selection, Mitchell said having the chance to work with Turner would be a major benefit to him early in his career.

“He is an awesome coach,” Mitchell said. “Just from talking to him, I know that he coaches hard and he is into the little things, running wise, running between the tackles and running outside zone. He’s very all-in about it, and I’m excited to be able to work with one of the great coaches in the league.”

Mitchell caught on immediately and worked his way into the backup role to open the season. When Raheem Mostert sustained an injury early in the season opener at Detroit, Mitchell was called upon. In 11 regular-season games, Mitchell gained 963 yards and five touchdowns on 207 carries for a 4.7-yard average. He added 169 yards and a touchdown in three postseason games.

The 49ers had different leading rushers — Carlos Hyde, Matt Breida, Mostert, Jeff Wilson and Mitchell — in each of the five seasons with Turner coaching that position group on Shanahan’s staff.

Turner began coaching running backs in 1975 at Indiana State, his alma mater. He continued his coaching career at Fresno State, Ohio State and Purdue.

Turner entered the professional coaching ranks in 1995 on Mike Shanahan’s staff with the Broncos. The Broncos had 11 individual 1,000-yard rushing seasons during his time with the Broncos, including a four-year span (2003 to ’06) of having a different 1,000-yard rusher each season.

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Turner was part of a staff that won back-to-back Super Bowls following the 1997 and ’98 seasons. He moved on to Washington as part of Shanahan’s staff in 2010 with Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator.

Turner spent two seasons with Atlanta when Kyle Shanahan was offensive coordinator, then followed Shanahan to the 49ers in 2017.

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