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INDIANAPOLIS – Tom Rathman’s long run as a player and coach has come to an end.

The Indianapolis Colts’ running backs coach announced his retirement Thursday.

“It was an honor to represent the NFL for more than 30 years as a coach and player,’’ Rathman, 58, said in a statement released by the team. “I was proud to represent and coach some outstanding players and I’m thankful for my time in Indianapolis.

“I’ll always be a Colts fan.’’

Rathman has been in charge of the team’s running backs room the last three seasons and was instrumental in that phase of the team making a dramatic improvement. The running game ranked 22th in the NFL in 2017, averaging 103.8 yards per game. But consider the progress on Rathman’s watch: 20th in ’18 (107.4), 7th in ’19 (133.1) and 10th last season (124.8).

“He made an immediate impact in our running backs room . . . and he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the development of our backs into multifaceted players,’’ coach Frank Reich said.

Rathman is the third member of the offense to retire since the end of the season, joining left tackle Anthony Castonzo and quarterback Philip Rivers.

He’s also the latest departure from coach Frank Reich’s offensive staff.

Coordinator Nick Sirianni was named the Philadelphia Eagles new head coach, and he is taking several of his colleagues with him: tight ends coach Jason Michael, pass-game specialist Kevin Patullo and cornerbacks coach Jonathan Gannon, who’s the Eagles’ defensive coordinator.

The Colts have replaced Sirianni with quarterbacks coach Marcus Brady and filled Brady’s vacancy by adding Scott Milanovich.

Rathman’s loss shouldn’t be casually dismissed.

His no-frills style and attention to detail and technique – and ball security – initially resulted in Marlon Mack emerging as a top-level back. Mack led the Colts with 908 yards in ’18 despite missing four games, and followed that up with a career-best 1,091 yards in ’19.

After Mack suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the opener at Jacksonville, rookie Jonathan Taylor stepped in and developed into one of the NFL’s top backs. He finished third in the league in rushing with 1,169 yards and set a franchise record with 253 yards in the season finale against the Jaguars. The 253 yards were tied for the 9th-most in NFL history and the 2nd-most by a rookie.

The back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons by Mack and Taylor were the first by the franchise since 2003-05.

Also, Nyheim Hines became a legitimate backup, not just an intriguing change-of-pace back. The 2018 fourth-round pick had his best season last year: 380 yards and three TDs on 89 rushing attempts and 482 yards and four TDs on 63 receptions.

Rathman’s influence was most noticeable in ball security. Known for taking care of the football during a nine-year playing career with San Francisco and the Raiders – seven fumbles on 864 “touches’’ – he emphasized taking care of the football from the first day he stepped in the Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Football Center.

“We’ll miss heading his infamous ‘Squeeze it!’ from the sideline at practice and on game day,’’ Reich said.

Rathman’s impact wasn’t immediate. Colts backs combined for six fumbles, including five lost, during his first season. But over the last two seasons, they fumbled just twice, losing both, despite a combined 808 rushing attempts. Taylor lost one fumble last season and Hines one in ’19.

Rathman’s coaching career spanned 22 seasons and four teams.

Prior to that, he authored a 9-year playing career that included eight seasons and two world championships with the San Francisco 49ers.

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You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.