While many current San Francisco 49ers fans are already banging the drum for running back Frank Gore to one day wear a gold jacket as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he should have to take a number behind Roger Craig, the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 1,000 yards while also having 1,000 yards receiving in the same season.
Craig, though, was passed over Thursday night as one of 15 finalists for Canton, though a former teammate in outside linebacker/defensive end Charles Haley was named a finalist for the sixth straight year. Craig was a Hall finalist in 2010, though a sound argument could be made for his induction.
He spent the first eight years of his 11-year career with the Niners, who selected him out of Nebraska in the second round of the 1983 draft. Two years later, Craig, with his high-knee running style, rushed for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns and led the NFL with 92 receptions for 1,016 yards and six TDs.
Craig was an integral part of the Niners’ prolific offense, along with Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, but has been overshadowed despite the four-time Pro Bowler ranking in the Top 20 in league history in both receptions (566) and rushing yards (8,189) at the time of his retirement.
Perhaps that is because his final moment as a member of the 49ers was his lost fumble in the 1990 NFC title game, when the Niners were in New York Giants territory and attempting to run out the clock and pull off a three-peat of Super Bowl titles. Instead, the Giants kicked a game-winning field goal at the final gun to pull out the 15-13 victory.
Craig then spent one season with the Los Angeles Raiders and closed out his career with two lackluster seasons in Minnesota, starting a combined four games for the Vikings.