Contra Costa Times

Garcia wonders what 49ers are doing
February 02, 2003
Quarterback says the team's search for a new coach is 'embarrassing'


HONOLULU - As the 49ers' coaching search stretches into a third week with no clear favorite and no clear direction, quarterback Jeff Garcia has seen enough.

"It's like we don't even have a plan now," Garcia told The Associated Press after practice Saturday at Aloha Stadium, where he's preparing for his third straight Pro Bowl appearance. "To me, it's embarrassing. We're almost pulling names out of a hat right now. I don't know where we're going with it."

When told the next interview will be on Monday with Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache, Garcia sighed. "I don't even know who he is, and I don't know much about Chicago's defense," he said. "That's just another candidate that probably doesn't do a lot for our fans."

Though Garcia supports general manager Terry Donahue's apparent interest in hiring a defensive guru, the quarterback would like to see decisive or compelling action taken by the 49ers -- and soon.

"It's just something that doesn't seem real organized right now," he said. "It's frustrating. Hopefully, it'll be resolved in the next couple of weeks, but the way it's going, I won't be surprised by whatever happens."

Garcia still doesn't understand why 49ers owner representative John York fired Steve Mariucci three days after the 49ers finished their fourth winning season in the coach's six years. They went 10-6 and won the NFC West before losing to eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay in the NFC playoffs.

"It doesn't seem like something that was planned out too well beforehand," center Jeremy Newberry said. "They're definitely making it up as they go along, but hopefully they'll find somebody good. I'm not worried about it, honestly. My offensive line coach (Pat Morris) is coming back, and that's who I deal with on a daily basis. I think our offense is going to be fine."

Blache, 53, is scheduled to arrive in Southern California today and formally interview Monday with Donahue. Blache has been in his role with the Bears the past four seasons. His defense allowed 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens to catch an NFL-record 20 passes on Dec. 17, 2000.

"Definitely, San Francisco would be intriguing," Blache told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday. "That's a heck of a football team. They have a good offense in place and a talented young defense to work with. The ownership is solid."

Blache and York both graduated from Notre Dame in 1971. Blache joins a pool of candidates that includes three other defensive coordinators -- the 49ers' Jim Mora, the New England Patriots' Romeo Crennel and the New York Jets' Ted Cottrell.

Blache, Crennel and Cottrell are black. Upon firing Mariucci, York told reporters on Jan. 15 he would strongly consider minority candidates, as is mandated by NFL policy.

"I'm going to tell you that there is no question that we are going to have viable African-American coaches on the list, and if that is the best coach to be hired, there is no question that we would be hiring him," York said then. "I will add that I think Cincinnati made a great pick with Marvin Lewis," who on Jan. 14 became the first black coach in Bengals history.

Blache will be the fifth candidate interviewed by Donahue, at least as long as he doesn't follow the suit of at least two other candidates who passed on interviews after signing extensions to remain with their teams. That was the route taken by Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, as well as apparently Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress.

Although the 49ers announced Friday they had dropped Childress from consideration, Childress' agent, Bob LaMonte, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Childress agreed to a three-year extension with the Eagles on Thursday night, thus removing himself from consideration from the 49ers job.

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