Pro Bowl Over, Bucs Quiet: Time To Talk
February 20th 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
Ok everyone, the Pro Bowl came and went with little notice. The 49ers playing in the game all did quite well. But I for one am just happy to put it behind us. Sounds strange I'm sure considering there were six 49ers in the game, but I have my reasons. Well actually I have one reason.
It's the talk we've all been waiting for and it took place on Tuesday at a wrestling ring near you - though the outcome is not yet known. Terrell Owens vs Steve Mariucci, Player vs Coach with special guest referee Terry Donahue but not Bill Walsh. Sounds like a WWF match-up doesn't? I can just see Hulk Hogan trotting out to "I am American", lifting up Owens and making him 'understand'. Ok maybe that's going over the deep end a little, but I just can't wait to know what happens.
Recent reports had the meeting between the two postponed until yesterday because of the Mariucci's job interview with Tampa Bay. The suspense is just brutal. Terry Donahue has reported he will sit down and mediate the discussion between the two, but Bill Walsh doesn't seem to want to get involved. Both Donahue and Walsh however believe that the two sides really aren't that far apart, Walsh however seems to have less belief of the need for the meeting all together. Walsh and Donahue both believe that support for the coach and player must be shown though.
I want the Owens / Mooch issue finished, over and done with. I want to know that either it has been resolved or not. And then, and only then can I really make a decision as to whether Owens should be a part of the 49ers 2002 roster. Because quite frankly, if he continues to act in the way he did this past season - slowly eating away at the team like a termite, well then I'd much rather see the 49ers trade him for draft picks.
Some will say "trade the coach, fire the coach, do anything to keep Owens" - and they almost got their wish this past week. But I really tend to disagree here. While Mooch was somewhat conservative in his play calling last year, there are a few things we must remember. First, it was offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's first year on the job. The two were trying to work together and build a chemistry between each other for the first time. If you all remember back to Mornhinweg's first year as coordinator, you will probably remember the 49ers offense wasn't flying high then either. So I'm not worried much about the play calling. Mariucci has also seen this team through a change in the administration the departure of several future hall of famers and has somehow taken a young team, without a full roster and turned them into a playoff caliber team.
I'm not worried about Mariucci as a coach, and quite frankly, with Owens catching over 90 passes this season and a career record 16 touchdowns - neither should he. I expect the two sides to come to terms in the discussion that took place (and can't wait to find out), and by gosh it will look foolish for Owens if they do indeed resolve their issues after stating his belief that the issue is not irreconcilable.