Garcia is Gruden's oversight
January 09, 2003
49ers quarterback had a tryout with the Raiders in 1999 but wasn't signed
SANTA CLARA -- Quarterback Jeff Garcia was named the NFL's Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday for leading the 49ers to Sunday's 39-38 come-from-way-behind victory over the New York Giants in the first round of the playoffs.
Chalk it up as yet another reminder to Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden that he erred in assessing Garcia's potential.
After winning the Canadian Football League championship in 1998 with the Calgary Stampeders, Garcia worked out for the Raiders -- then coached by Gruden -- before signing with the 49ers on Feb. 15, 1999.
"I obviously didn't do a very good job evaluating that workout," said Gruden, whose Buccaneers host the 49ers on Sunday in the NFC divisional playoffs. "I've told Jeff personally after competing with him in my previous employment that he's a great player, a truly great football player. He's an unbelievable competitor and very talented, and I let him know that I certainly whiffed in evaluating that workout.
"We just signed Rich Gannon and Jeff was a veteran player coming from the CFL and I probably went into the workout thinking Rich is a new guy coming in here taking all the reps and we probably need to find a young guy with less ambition than Garcia had. I totally admit, again, that I dropped the ball."
Garcia shared that sentiment when he saw the Raiders opted to sign Andre Ware instead of him as Gannon's backup.
"When they signed Andre Ware, I was in somewhat disbelief," Garcia said. "How could they sign a guy who didn't do any better than me or had more to show than I did? But everything worked out. Coach Gruden has approached me in the past and he's always been very positive (in regards) to the way I play."
As for his Player of the -Week award, Garcia added: "Obviously I wasn't out there alone. It's an honor I share with my teammates."
The 49ers bolstered their special teams units by signing linebacker Terry Killens, a seven-year veteran who led the team in special teams tackles last season. Killens was cut by the Denver Broncos just before this season, and he played two games for the Seattle Seahawks before being released last month. To make room for Killens, the 49ers released third-year safety Jason Moore.
Center Jeremy Newberry sprained his left ankle in practice. "I jammed it a little. I'll be fine," Newberry he said. ... Left tackle Derrick Deese and right guard Ron Stone did not practice because of left ankle sprains. Coach Steve Mariucci said Deese, Stone and Newberry will start Sunday. ... Cornerback Jason Webster (left ankle) did not practice and is questionable for Sunday's game. ... Wide receiver Terrell Owens (right groin) did not practice and is probable.
Garcia is well aware of the challenge the 49ers will face Sunday from the Buccaneers defense, particularly linebacker Derrick Brooks, who Wednesday was named the Associated Press' Defensive Player of the Year. "He's a playmaker and the type of guy who's always around the ball," Garcia said. "You just have to look where the football is and you'll find him. He's tremendously smart and athletic."
-- Cam Inman
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