Mariucci To Leave?
February 16th 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
49ers head coach Steve Mariucci is a highly sought after man. Not so long after being pursued by Notre Dame and the New Orleans Saints only to turn down both teams before they could even ask permission from the 49ers to talk with Mariucci, Tampa Bay has made Mariucci their latest future coach. Since parting ways with Tony Dungy, the Buccaneers have had an incredibly difficult time landing a future head coach. However with their General Manager position now becoming vacated, it appears that they may have a good chance of landing Mariucci.
The Bucs were granted permission to speak with Mariucci on Friday around 4:30 PST on Friday. The 49ers officially are saying that they don't want to step in the way of the coach given this great opportunity, and that they would like Mariucci to return to the team. Unofficially however, it is believed that the two sides, adminstration and coach, have never really gotten along, and since Mariucci was never really Walsh's, Donahue's or York's coach, they have never really been happy with Mariucci. This is the first of three opportunities for Mariucci to move that is being considered by the coach.
Mariucci has expressed desires in the past about having the dual roal of GM and Coach, and this would finally give him that opportunity. With two years left on his contract, the coach that made Brett Favre, Marc Brunell, Ty Detmer and Jeff Garcia into the players they are today is expected to let the 49ers know his intentions sometime late this coming week. Should Mariucci leave, he would command a rather large amount of compensation to be sent to the 49ers. This compensation is likely to include a first and third round draft pick and perhaps more.
It's hard to believe that the 49ers would be willing to part ways with a coach who took the team to a 12-4 record, particularly with so few replacement candidates available. The short list however would likely include former 49ers coaches George Seifert, and Dennis Green as well as the possibility of Terry Donahue acting as an intern coach for a year and then having the 49ers actively pursue John Gruden next season. One more possibility is Rick Neuheisel who was the the quarterback for Terry Donahue when he took his team to the Rose Bowl in 1984. Rick Neuheisel is an accomplished college coach at Washington and has amassed an amazing 50-20 record as a coach, runs a pro-style offense that is very explosive and is known for developing quarterbacks. He could be the 9ers best option at coach if Mariucci leaves.
Losing Mariucci - though he's not gone yet would send a message to the 49ers players, mainly Terrell Owens, that if you complain enough about a coach, eventually the management will get rid of him. This is a terrible image to leave with the team. Perhaps however the worst case sceanrio would be if Mariucci left and took some of the coaches with him.
Although it's likely Mariucci would have to promote any coach he brings with him, the likes of Tom Rathman, Pat Morris, Dwaine Board, Greg Olson and Brett Maxie could follow the coach. This in particular would be detremental to the entire 49ers team.
It doesn't appear the 49ers have anyone lined up to take the coaching job from within the organization, and typically that is how Bill Walsh likes to bring in head coaching staff. Greg Knapp has only completed his first season as offensive coordinator, and Jim Mora Jr. only has three under his belt with only one being a success. While the 49ers have not lost Mariucci yet, it now appears rather imminent that they will. While the adminstrative staff may have personality clashes with Mariucci, the compensation they would have to receive for Mariucci would have to be extremely high to lose such a talented coach. Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum