Contra Costa Times

Jets' Cottrell not playing minority card with 49ers
February 06, 2003
By Cam Inman

SANTA CLARA - New York Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell quickly sensed the first impression he was making Wednesday on Bay Area reporters.

"Let's get off this thing about the minority (issue)," said Cottrell, one of three candidates asked to take second interviews for the 49ers' head coaching vacancy. "They're going to go with the best coach, regardless of race."

If that coach is Cottrell, he would become the first black coach in the 49ers' 57-year history. He interviewed with six other teams the previous two offseasons to be their coach. Only three of those teams, plus the 49ers, offered him a true shot, he said.

"This has been very genuine," said Cottrell, a 19-year NFL assistant. "I'm going to make this point very clear that just because teams talk to you, it's not an interview. I've had seven teams talks to me. Four of them have been what I call legitimate interviews."

Cottrell, 55, is one of three candidates -- all defensive coordinators -- 49ers general manager Terry Donahue has asked to interview this week with 49ers owner representative John York. The others are the 49ers' Jim Mora and the Chicago Bears' Greg Blache.

The 49ers' search for Steve Mariucci's replacement enters its fourth week today.

Cottrell arrived in the Bay Area at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, toured the 49ers facility and met with York. Next on the agenda was a dinner date with York and Donahue, then another meeting with York this morning before flying home.

York will meet with Mora this afternoon and then likely visit Friday with Blache, a team spokesman said.

Although Donahue said Tuesday he planned to speak with a "limited number" of college coaches, those potential candidates haven't been announced.

"If there's going to be a college guy that comes in and swoops this thing, well, if he does, he does," Cottrell said. "But I'm here right now. That's the only thing I can control."

York and Donahue were not made available for comment.

Cottrell said he and York didn't discuss football and instead talked about their personal backgrounds.

Asked by the media about his defensive philosophy, Cottrell said: "I just tell them to play like (heck) and play hard. Try to be a very aggressive defense."

And his offensive philosophy? He said he's always admired the West Coast offense, a 49ers staple for two decades.

And because the 49ers often have flourished with that offensive style, Cottrell said, he'd be comfortable retaining the offensive assistants still under contract for 2003 -- offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, offensive line coach Pat Morris and quarterbacks coach Ted Tollner. Cottrell said the 49ers have "recommended" keeping the assistants under contract but that it's ultimately up to whomever becomes the coach.

NOTES: Washington's Rick Neuheisel, Oregon's Mike Bellotti, USC's Pete Carroll and Oregon State's Dennis Erickson have not been contacted by the 49ers and denied any interest in the opening, according to sports information directors from their respective schools.

Tell us what you think on the new 49ers Clubhouse message board.