49ers Draw Blue Prints
June 25 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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Since Bill Walsh began his tenure with the 49ers, it has been them responsible for designing the blue prints of the NFL. First it was the West Coast Offense, that when run to perfection is still the most unbeatable offense to ever take the field. That of course was followed by how to take advantage of loop holes in the salary cap. Most recently, the 49ers have shown the NFL how to climb at of the dumpster while controlling the salary cap. It’s this latest blue print that has many NFL teams interested.
One such team has been the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars have been fighting their own salary cap problems this off-season. In so doing, their front office contacted Coach Steve Mariucci and General Manager Terry Donahue for some advice. While neither disclosed any ‘trade secrets’ both were happy to point the Jag’s in the right direction.
“All I could tell him is that it's like when you're on a jet, and the captain says, 'There's going to be some turbulence for the next few hours,'" Mariucci said. "So you buckle your seatbelt and hang on, even though it's a little white-knuckle sometimes. You definitely come away with some white hair."
Donahue went on to say that there a difficult decisions that need to be made, like the cutting of Jerry Rice, Tim McDonald, and Ken Norton Jr. "It was very difficult, because you make decisions for economic reasons that you wouldn't otherwise make," Donahue said. But the main focus is really on the draft. “You have to get lucky," Donahue said. "The emphasis really becomes on doing well in the draft."
Donahue and Mariucci also agreed on the importance on continuity in the coaching staff and front office. This allows both sides the freedom to rebuild. "Coaches are very aware of the high pressure that's on them," Donahue said. "That's why a lot of them have trouble with rebuilding, because they know they're still vulnerable [to getting fired] even though the team is committed to working through the bad times."
Neither Donahue nor Mariucci were going to disclose how they decided which veterans needed to be cut, and which didn’t. The formula was obviously production, salary and age related, but one thing was made quite clear by the two: "Rebuilding from cap problems isn't fun and it isn't easy," Mariucci said.