February 18th 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
The Mariucci controversy took place over a shorter span of time than was originally though, and when it was all said and done, it seemed like every party in the situation got what they wanted. It also seemed like every party in the situation had a slightly different story to tell. We may never know the truth, but from listening to all sides of the story, I believe to have the closest possible account of the last 72 hours.
After first receiving news that the Bucs wanted to speak to Mariucci, Terry Donahue spoke to the Yorks and possibly Bill Walsh about whether or not they should allow the Bucs to pursue Mariucci. After speaking with the Yorks, Donahue spoke with the Bucs to negotiate a compensation package in the event Mariucci left. That package is rumored to be anything from a two first and two second round draft picks over two season to one pick this season, a second round pick next season and a third and fourth in the following season. Once a compensation figure was agreed upon, Donahue and Mariucci spoke about Mariucci taking the time to speak with the Bucs.
In all likelihood Mariucci was originally turned off by the 49ers allowing him to speak with the Bucs, afterall it showed the team wasn't desperate to keep him. Mariucci then spoke to his assitant coaches, briefing them on the situation. By the time the coach returned home, his kids were a sleep, and he spoke to his wife about the days events. The following day, Mariucci had a meeting with the Buc' owners - the Glazers.
Mariucci did not really want to leave the Bay Area after growing attached to the team, the players and after his family expressed their love for the area. Thus it would take a lot of money to take Mariucci away from the 49ers. Mariucci asked for and apparently received a seven year deal at six million per season. Mariucci was most likely expecting the Bucs to turn down his request for the money, and thus he would have an easy way out to return to the 49ers. And in all likelihood when Mariucci received the offer or something close to it possibly twenty-five million over five years, his shock was evident - giving the Glazers the impression that he was not completely serious about moving to Tampa. Mariucci took a day to decide about the job, and eventually decided to turn it down siting his family, and the compensation package as two main reasons why he would not leave the 49ers. However by this time the Glazers had sense Mariucci's feelings and were already re-opening up lines of communication with the Raiders. Upon hearing Mariucci turn down the job, the Glazers had already agreed to compensation with the Raiders for John Gruden. And the deal was done, the Bucs had their coach, the 49ers had theirs, and the Raiders received two first and two second round draft picks.
This is the best news the 49ers could have received, and not just because I predicted Mariucci would stay with the team (and don't have to suffer through all of you laughing at me like I promised you could), but rather because the 49ers coach who has taken this team and made it his own, brought back from the slums of the NFL and has been over achieving ever since, was returning to the team. Mariucci will benefit from another year of coaching with the 49ers, and if the front office is smart, they will extend a lucrative contract to him next season. Furthremore it looks like Mariucci may have unknowingly taken the first step in briding the gap that the media clames exists between him and the front office. In staying in SF Mariucci has shown his dedication to the team - Donahue should reciprocate.
Some other positives that come from this are: The 49ers will have an easier time keeping all of their assitant coaches and re-signing some of their free agents. Jim Mora Jr was a front runner for Mariucci's position showing that team has confidence in the man who restored the 49ers defense. Jeff Garcia will benefit tremendously from having the same system and the same coaches in place in his third starting year.
Anyway you slice it this deal worked out well for the 49ers. Not everyone is a huge Mariucci supporter, and I know that. But it would be hard to find anyone to take his place quickly and effectively without hurting the development of the team. Consistency at the coaching position has been a staple of the 49ers since Bill Walsh came to the team, it's something the team should continue to do in order to regain its dominance. It's been a wide roller coaster ride for the past few weeks, hopefully Mariucci will get his contract extention next season and this whole episode wont end in a downwads death loop.