Super Bowl Or Bust
July 30 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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Steve Mariucci has to be excited. He has a young team playing like veterans. He has one of the lowest payrolls in the league. His team is coming off a playoff season and have their eyes set on the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl or bust mentality is indeed back in the 49ers organization -and itís evident every where you look.
Itís not that the 49ers would frown upon making the playoffs, or winning the NFC West, or the NFC, itís just that they have set their sites higher. The team wants a Super Bowl win, and they truly wonít be satisfied until they get one. It was this same attitude that carried the 49ers to more wins over the 80ís and 90ís than any other franchise, and a record, a perfect five Super Bowl appearances.
The Super Bowl belief is evident all over the team. The look of determination in Jeff Garcia as hey drops back to pass in training camp, scanning a defense that is finally challenging him, only to have to throw the perfect pass to find his receiver. Thereís the way Terrell Owens is trying to become a leader in more places than just on the field, finally intermingling with the rest of the team. Itís Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow following the smashing blocks of Fred Bealsey and Kevan Barlow only to blast through the line of scrimmage. Itís Eric Johnson returning the tight end position to the pass catching style it became famous for in the West Coast Offense.
The feeling has manifested its self in with the defense, where Bryant Young and Dana Stubblefield have taken the defensive line under their tutelage. It can be seen in the extra twenty pounds of muscle on Andre Carter, and in the quiet, but tight coverage of Ahmed Plummer. It can be seen as Jason Webster shows rookie Mike Rumph the ropes of playing cornerback or in Tony Parrishís ability to step right into the defense and fit in.
The coaches have an unmistakable enthusiasm about them too. Whether it be Gill Byrd running across the practice field to congratulate one of his cornerbacks, or Tom Rathman screaming words of encouragement at his running backs as they run through the ropes, or even Steve Mariucci sprinting after a player in the end zone to pat him on the back, the coaches certainly have lofty expectations.
This years 49ers squad is focused. They are ready, and while they will be satisfied with a solid playoff performance, they are expecting more. Steve Mariucci has returned the ďIím better than youĒ feeling to the 49ers, and suddenly the team has returned the 49ers mentality that has existed for decades. Itís Super Bowl or bust again in San Francisco.