Six And Counting
September 24 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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Terrell Owens finally said what he’s been wanting to all season. The 49ers lack “killer instinct” according to Owens, and after a two reception game, Owens had to vent his anger. Although it was Head Coach Steve Mariucci’s decision to take a knee to end the game in victory, rather than continue to try and pound the ball into the endzone, that set Owens off; but really it was the frustration building over the past three games, that angered Owens.
In Mariucci’s defense, the game had been won already, and his team was not only sick, but ailing too. With the game in hand, there was no need to score another touchdown, with the risk of injury or even a freakish fumble and return for touchdown followed by an onside kick and a field goal with a minute to go in the game. Mariucci made the right decision here, no doubt about that.
Owens may have disputed Mariucci’s plan of sticking with the run in this game too. But with his starting quarterback sick, and eventually out of the game, and his running backs pounding the ball for over 6 yards a carry - to do otherwise simply wouldn’t have made much sense.
Really though, I can’t understand how Owens can be frustrated with the offense and not himself. Through three games, Owens has dropped six balls (unofficially) - these opportunities not including the catchable passes where Owens stopped running his route or didn’t manage to get his fingers on. Truth of the matter is Owens has had plenty of opportunity to make big plays this season. In this past game, he dropped his second potential touchdown pass in two games.
Before Owens can complain about the lack of ‘killer instinct’ on the 49ers, he has to start catching balls, or rather not dropping them. As a receiver that has star potential, he can’t afford to let the ball hit the ground as he did on a deep pass that went through his hands on the one yard line. Owens does not have the luxury to complain until he starts holding on to the ball.
How can Owens fault an offense for not being aggressive enough, when he lets catchable passes fall to the ground? He shouldn’t be able to. But Owens is complaining, and given that the 49ers have their bye week this week, Head Coach Steve Mariucci should take a moment to sit down and talk with Owens. Smooth things over to prevent the imminent distraction, and to let Owens know, that although he should never criticize his coaches - especially not un public, that he certainly has no right to until he pulls his weight on the team (and in his defense his running touchdown was awesome, but ultimately his job is to catch balls).