When Brad Lambert was putting together Charlotte’s football program, one of the teams he visited was Texas-San Antonio, which was going through its own growing pains.
Lambert gets to return the favor Saturday, when the 49ers host the Roadrunners at Richardson Stadium in their final home game of the 2015 season.
San Antonio, which joined Conference USA in 2013, and Charlotte – in their first season as both a Football Bowl Subdivision and C-USA team – are now conference opponents.
It wasn’t that long ago that the two schools were bound together by circumstances.
In 2011, Lambert and members of the 49ers’ coaching staff made the trip to Texas to meet with Roadrunners coach Larry Coker and his staff.
Coker, who helped Miami win two national championships as both an assistant and head coach, was hired in 2009 to form San Antonio’s program, which played its first game in 2011 and joined the Western Athletic Conference in 2012. The Roadrunners moved to C-USA in 2013.
“It’s kinda come full circle,” Lambert said Tuesday. “They’ve been very helpful for us in this process of starting our program. Now we’re in the same league, and we’re playing them. We never expected that.”
Both teams enter Saturday’s game with specific goals – the 49ers (2-7, 0-6) aim to win their first C-USA game and snap a seven-game losing streak; San Antonio (1-8, 1-4) wants to end a four-game skid, with three of those losses coming by seven or fewer points.
“They’ve played a tough schedule … and they’ve been in every game in our league,” Lambert said of the Roadrunners. “They make you beat them – you’re not going to be able to make too many mistakes in the game.”
49ers celebrate Ratliff’s birthday: Phil Ratliff, the former 49ers offensive line coach who passed away in August, is still making his presence felt with Charlotte’s players and coaches.
With Ratliff’s birthday on Thursday, 49ers fans are being asked to do their part by committing random acts of kindness that day.
“It came really from Coach (offensive coordinator Jeff) Mullen’s wife Andrea,” Lambert said. “It’s kinda who Coach (Ratliff) was – he was always so kind to everybody, no matter who you are or what you’re role is. He was a nice man, and treated everyone the same.”
Fans are asked to share their experience on social media websites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #RAK4PHIL.
Senior Day special for Clayton-Molby: Saturday’s game against San Antonio will be more than just another home game for 49ers linebacker Caleb Clayton-Molby.
Clayton-Molby and six other players – offensive lineman Zach Thomas, Joe Wolljung and Danny Book; defensive backs Ardy Holmes and Cortezz Nixon, and defensive lineman Devon Johnson – are all “plankholders” in Charlotte’s football program, having been on the roster since the team played its first game in 2013.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” Clayton-Molby said. “Having three games left in my college career isn’t something you don’t really grasp until it’s over.
“We don’t get all the glory like some of the guys in the future might. We don’t get to play for a bowl game. But it’s really cool to set the foundation. When I have kids and they want to play college football, I can say ‘I started that program.’ ”