Open main menu

Roger Timothy Craig (born July 10, 1960) is an American former football running back in the National Football League (NFL). He played for the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders and Minnesota Vikings. Craig went to four Pro Bowls and won three Super Bowls with the 49ers. Craig was the first NFL running back to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season. He currently works as the VP of Business Development at TIBCO Software.

Roger Craig
refer to caption
Roger Craig at Super Bowl XLIII (2009)
No. 33, 22
Position:Running back
Personal information
Born: (1960-07-10) July 10, 1960 (age 59)
Davenport, Iowa
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:222 lb (101 kg)
Career information
High school:Davenport Central
(Davenport, Iowa)
NFL Draft:1983 / Round: 2 / Pick: 49
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:8,189
Receiving yards:4,911
Player stats at


High school careerEdit

Craig attended Central High School in Davenport, Iowa, graduating in 1979. There, he was teammates with future NFL TE Jamie Williams. His older brother, Curtis Craig, had also played running back, graduating from Central in 1974. The Craig brothers were preceded at running back for Central by future Denver Broncos RB Jim Jensen.[1] The 1976 team, with Roger Craig and Williams, won the Iowa State Championship under Coach Jim Fox.[2] In 1978, his Senior year, Craig rushed for 1,565 yards and 27 touchdowns, earning prep All-America honors. In his final high school game, a playoff loss, Craig rushed for 353 yards and 4 touchdowns.[3][4] Craig was an all-around athlete, also competing in wrestling and track. In wrestling, he was an Iowa State Championships qualifier.[5][6][7] On the track, Craig finished 2nd in the Iowa State Track and Field Championships in both the 110 hurdles and the 400 hurdles as a Senior in 1979. Craig broke the school record in the 110 hurdles that had been set by Jim Jensen.[1] Craig credited 10-time State Champion Coach Ira Dunsworth with helping develop his distinctive high knee running form.[8][9] Craig's time of 14.43 in the 110 hurdles is still listed among the All-Time Bests at the Iowa State Track and Field Championships.[10]

College careerEdit

Craig followed in the footsteps of Curtis Craig and Jamie Williams to graduate from Davenport Central and then attend Nebraska to play for Coach Tom Osborne.[4] Williams went on to an NFL career as well and Curtis Craig was an All-Big 8 Player in 1977.

Roger Craig played three full seasons for the University of Nebraska. In his Nebraska career, he rushed for 2,446 yards and 26 touchdowns, with an average of 6 yards per carry. He was an integral running back in Osborne's I-formation option offense.

After playing mainly for the Freshman squad in 1979, Craig rushed for 769 yards (7.1) and 15 TDs as a Sophomore in 1980. As a Junior in 1981, Craig gained 1,060 yards on 173 carries (6.1) and six TDs. Craig was also fourth on the team with 12 receptions for 87 yards and was named to the All-Big 8 Team. In 1982, teaming with Mike Rozier in the backfield, Craig was injured early in the season and lost playing time while injured, but came back with 127-yards rushing in the regular-season final game.[11]

In the dominant Nebraska Offense with Craig during his tenure were: QBs Jeff Quinn and Turner Gill; RBs Jarvis Redwine, I.M. Hipp, Andra Franklin, Craig Johnson, Jeff Smith and eventual Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier; T Dean Steinkuhler (#2 overall pick in 1984 NFL Draft);[12] WR Irving Fryar (#1 overall pick in 1984 NFL Draft)[13] and his hometown friend, TE Jamie Williams.[14][4] Craig also ran one season of indoor track at Nebraska, finishing 4th in the 60 Meter hurdles at the Big 8 Indoor Championships.[15][16]

Collegiate statisticsEdit

Rushing Receiving
1979 7 31 4.4 8 0 0 0 0.0 0 0
1980 108 769 7.1 61 15 0 0 0.0 0 0
1981 173 1,060 6.1 94 6 12 87 7.3 17 0
1982 119 586 4.9 34 5 4 15 3.8 11 0
Totals 407 2,446 6.0 94 26 16 102 6.4 17 0


Pro football careerEdit

San Francisco 49ers (1983-1990)Edit

Craig was the 49th overall selection in the 1983 NFL Draft, taken by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round from Nebraska, where he once held the record for longest run from scrimmage (94 yards,[17] set during a 1981 game against Florida State University).

In his rookie year in 1983 playing under Bill Walsh and alongside Quarterback Joe Montana, Craig scored a combined 12 touchdowns rushing and receiving, as the 49ers reached the NFC Championship game. Montana, Craig and Walsh would remain together until the 1988 season. Craig first became well known in his rookie year for his distinctive high-knee running technique.

Craig rushing the ball for the 49ers during Super Bowl XIX.

In Super Bowl XIX in January 1985, Craig rushed for 58 yards, caught seven passes for 77 yards, and became the first player ever to score three touchdowns in a Super Bowl during the 49ers' 38–16 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

The following season, Craig became the first in NFL history to run and receive for at least 1,000 yards in the same season. He ran for 1,050 yards on 214 carries and led the NFL with 92 catches for 1,016 yards, and scored a team high 15 touchdowns. With fullback Tom Rathman, also from Nebraska, the two formed the 49ers' "Cornfield Backfield."[citation needed]

In 1988, Craig was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press. He ran for a career-high 1,502 yards and caught an additional 76 passes for 534 yards. A memorable game occurred in week 7 against the Los Angeles Rams. He scored three rushing touchdowns and ran a career-high 191 yards. He went on to assist the 49ers to Super Bowl XXIII by amassing 262 combined rushing and receiving yards and two touchdowns in their two playoff games. In the 49ers' 20-16 win over Cincinnati in that Super Bowl, he rushed for 71 yards and caught eight passes for 101 yards.

In the 1989 season, the 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row, aided by Craig's 1,527 combined rushing/receiving yards and seven touchdowns in the season, along with his 240 combined rushing/receiving yards and two touchdowns in their two playoff games. In San Francisco's 55-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV, Craig rushed for 69 yards, caught five passes for 34 yards, and scored a touchdown.

The 49ers were 14–2 in the following regular season on their quest to become the first team to win three consecutive Super Bowls. In the NFC Championship Game (his last as a 49er), a hit by Giants Nose Tackle Erik Howard caused Craig to fumble the football that was recovered by Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor late in the fourth quarter while the 49ers were trying to hold on to a 13–12 lead over the New York Giants. Subsequent to the fumble recovery the Giants scored on a last-second field goal to win 15–13, and went on to win Super Bowl XXV.

In eight seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Craig played in 121 games and missed only seven games, five of them in his final season. Playing alongside Dwight Clark, Jerry Rice, Tom Rathman, Russ Francis and others in the 49ers diverse offense, Craig accounted for 11,506 yards from scrimmage, rushing for 7064 yards (4.2) and 50 touchdowns, and catching 508 passes for 4442 yards (8.7) and 16 touchdowns. in 16 playoff games with the 49ers, Craig had 817 yards rushig (4.0) with seven touchdowns and 63 receptions for 606 yards (9.7) and two touchdowns, as the 49ers won three Super Bowls.[18]

Oakland Raiders (1991)Edit

Craig left San Francisco and signed with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1991. Sharing time with Marcus Allen and Nick Bell, Craig led the Raiders in rushing as he rushed for 590 yards and had 17 receptions for 136 yards. The Raiders finished 9-7 under Coach Art Shell and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs.[19]

Minnesota Vikings (1992-1993)Edit

Craig played his final two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Playing behind Terry Allen in 1992, Craig rushed for 416 yards and four touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 161 yards. The Vikings finished 11-5, winning the NFC Central Division and were defeated by the Washington Redskins in the playoffs.[20]

In his final season, Craig split time with Barry Word, Scottie Graham and Robert Smith, as the Vikings finished 9-7, losing to the New York Giants in the playoffs. Craig rushed for 119 yards and 1 touchdown, catching 19 passed for 169 yards and 1 touchdown. Craig announced his retirement after the 1993 season, signing a one day contract with the San Francisco 49ers and retiring as a 49er.[21][22]


Craig appeared in the NFL Playoffs every year of his career, and made the Pro Bowl four times (1985, 1987–1989). Craig finished his eleven NFL seasons with 8,189 rushing yards, 566 receptions for 4,911 receiving yards, and three kickoff returns for 43 yards. Overall, he amassed 13,143 total yards and scored 73 touchdowns (56 rushing and 17 receiving).

Craig was the first running back to gain more than 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season (1985). Since then, only one other running back has achieved the same feat (Marshall Faulk in 1999). Craig also caught a then-record 92 passes in the 1985 campaign. In 1988, Craig set a then-franchise record 1,502 yards rushing (Garrison Hearst broke the record with 1,570 yards in 1998. Frank Gore holds the current record with 1,695 yards in 2006). The 1988 season was the second time Craig broke the 2,000 combined yardage mark in his career.

Craig, Lydell Mitchell and Chuck Foreman are the only running backs to lead the NFL in receptions for a single season.

Craig is one of three running backs to ever record 100 receiving yards or more in a Super Bowl (James White, New England Patriots, Super Bowl 51; Corey Clement, Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl 52). His prowess as a receiver out of the backfield is a contrast to his college career, where he caught only 16 passes during his three seasons at Nebraska.

In 1993, Peter King (in Inside the Helmet) reported that Craig was the only running back to be elected to the Pro Bowl at both fullback and halfback.


  • In 1987, Craig was inducted into the Quad City Sports Hall of Fame.[23]
  • Craig was Inducted into the Davenport Central High School Hall of Honor in 1989.[24]
  • Craig was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1989.[11]
  • In 2002, Craig was inducted into the Iowa's IHSAA Football Players’ Hall-of-Fame. (His brother, Curtis Craig, was subsequently inducted in 2003).[25]
  • Craig is a member of the San Francisco 49ers Hall of Fame.
  • Craig was named one of 25 semifinalists considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2009 and one of the 15 modern-era finalists for the Class of 2010.[26]

NFL statisticsEdit

Rushing Receiving
1983 SF 176 725 4.1 71 8 48 427 8.9 23 4
1984 SF 155 649 4.2 28 4 71 675 9.5 64 3
1985 SF 214 1,050 4.9 62 9 92 1,016 11.0 73 6
1986 SF 204 830 4.1 25 7 81 624 7.7 48 0
1987 SF 215 815 3.8 25 3 66 492 7.5 35 1
1988 SF 310 1,502 4.8 46 9 76 534 7.0 22 1
1989 SF 271 1,054 3.9 27 6 49 473 9.7 44 1
1990 SF 141 439 3.1 26 1 25 201 8.0 31 0
1991 LA 162 590 3.6 15 1 17 136 8.0 20 0
1992 MIN 105 416 4.0 21 4 22 164 7.5 22 0
1993 MIN 38 119 3.1 11 1 19 169 8.9 31 1
Totals 1,991 8,189 4.1 71 56 566 4,911 8.7 73 17



Craig spent several years studying Tae Kwon Do under Chris Jensen and Debbie Pederson at Golden State Tae Kwon Do in Foster City (now in San Carlos).[28]

He is an avid runner and has participated in over 38 marathons and half-marathons.[29]

Craig was the Grand Marshal for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.[28]


  1. ^ a b Miller, Ira (December 29, 1985). "49ers Roger Craig: A Hard-Working Record Breaker" – via
  2. ^ "Year-by-Year Results - Davenport Central Blue Devils Football (Davenport, IA)".
  3. ^ GREULE, OTTO. "ROGER CRAIG, Davenport Central". The Quad-City Times.
  4. ^ a b c "Recruiting Tales: Roger Craig". Husker247.
  5. ^ "Recruiting" (PDF).
  6. ^ "NFL Players That Are Former Wrestlers In High School or College".
  7. ^ a b "Register Sports Hall of Fame Database - Roger Craig -".
  8. ^ Roger Craig's Tales from the San Francisco 49ers Sideline Roger Craig, Matt Maiocco, Bill Walsh Sports Publishing LLC, 2004 - Sports & Recreation - 200 pages
  9. ^ "Former 49ers tailback Craig home' for book signing". The Quad-City Times.
  10. ^ "Microsoft Word - 2.ATB.event_meters_yds.doc" (PDF). Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Roger Craig".
  12. ^ "Dean Steinkuhler Stats".
  13. ^ "Irving Fryar College Stats". College Football at
  14. ^ a b "Roger Craig College Stats". College Football at
  15. ^ Roger Craig's Tales from the San Francisco 49ers Sideline Roger Craig, Matt Maiocco, Bill Walsh Sports Publishing LLC, 2004 - Sports & Recreation - 200 pages
  16. ^ "Why Do Hurdlers Make Great Football Players?". December 18, 2011.
  17. ^ "Roger Craig".
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Bio" (PHP).
  24. ^ "DHS/CHS Hall of Honor Inductees - Central High School".
  25. ^ "Bio" (PDF).
  26. ^ "Heroes of the Game - Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site".
  27. ^ "Roger Craig". Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  28. ^ a b Crowe, Jerry (October 17, 2010). "Former NFL running back Roger Craig goes the distance" – via LA Times.
  29. ^ Doxsie, Don. "Two decades after leaving NFL, Craig is still running". The Quad-City Times.

External linksEdit