Contra Costa Times

Mariucci turns focus to Giants
January 01, 2003
Coach doesn't watch the film of Monday night's loss to the Rams

49ers notebook

SANTA CLARA -- Stung by the way the 49ers' regular-season finale ended Monday night, coach Steve Mariucci opted not to watch film Tuesday of the 31-20 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

"We got in and went right to work on the Giants," said Mariucci, whose 49ers (10-6) host the New York Giants (10-6) in a first-round playoff game Sunday. "Really, it's a new season. You start over with six teams. The best teams in the league have a new season and we have to look at it like that. I know our team does."

Mariucci praised how his team played the first three quarters against the Rams and expressed concern about losing a 20-3 lead in the fourth quarter. "I thought we played dominating football. That's why I was ashamed to let it slip away so fast," Mariucci said. "They got all their yards and points in that fourth quarter, and we had our (two) turnovers and (one) punts, so it finished in unfavorable fashion."

Mariucci also said he wondered if some players started to worry about getting hurt after seeing starting cornerback Jason Webster sprain his left ankle in the fourth quarter. While some starters remained in the game, Mariucci said it was important to play backups on the offensive line and throughout the defense to protect other starters for Sunday's opener. "I was hoping it would be good enough to hang on and win that thing, but it wasn't," he said.

T.O. update

Wide receiver Terrell Owens, who hasn't played the past two games to rest his injured right groin, will practice this week and play Sunday, Mariucci said. "We have to make sure he doesn't do too much, because he hasn't done much lately," Mariucci said. Owens had four catches for 41 yards in the season opener against the Giants, including a 33-yard reception to spark the winning drive. "They did a nice job on him in the first game and we have to allow him to be more productive for us," Mariucci said. "There were always a lot of people around him so we have to be creative enough to get him open."

Stat leaders

With 16 touchdown receptions, Owens led the league in that category for the second straight season. His 100 catches tied for the fourth-most in the league, and his 1,300 yards receiving ranked him eighth. ... Quarterback Jeff Garcia finished with an 85.6 efficiency rating, his lowest since a 77.9 mark in his first season with the 49ers in 1999. His 3,344 yards passing also were his fewest since 1999, when he passed for 2,544 yards. ... Running back Garrison Hearst finished 28 yards shy of the 1,000-yard rushing mark, which 17 other players reached.

Injury notes

Mariucci listed Webster as questionable because of an ankle sprain. "The swelling did go down some," Mariucci said. "It may go towards the end of the week to see about his availability." ... Free safety Zack Bronson hasn't played since breaking his left foot Oct. 14, but it he feels well in practice this week, "we may very well start him," Mariucci said. ... Left tackle Derrick Deese and right guard Ron Stone, who both rested Monday night with ankle sprains, will play, Mariucci said. ... Linebacker Jeff Ulbrich (left ankle), wide receiver Cedrick Wilson (right ankle), defensive end Sean Moran (right Achilles) should be available to play, said Mariucci, who added that linebacker Jamie Winborn (left knee) is doubtful and linebacker Saleem Rasheed (left thigh) questionable.

Fumble facts

Hearst had lost only one fumble all season before fumbling away the ball on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter Monday night. His other lost fumble this season came in a Nov. 3 win over the Raiders. The 49ers fumbled five times and lost two of them Monday night, the same numbers they had in the previous seven games combined.

-- Cam Inman

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