Contra Costa Times

Green interested in return to 49ers
January 16, 2003
Former Vikings coach could be a candidate for the job, along with Mora

By Eric Gilmore

SANTA CLARA - Now that they have fired coach Steve Mariucci, the 49ers' next order of business is to find his replacement.

Did somebody say former Minnesota Vikings coach Dennis Green?

Green all but lobbied for the 49ers job Wednesday during an interview with ESPN, his current employer.

"I've got some interest in that job," said Green, a former 49ers assistant coach under current 49ers consultant Bill Walsh. "It's a very attractive job."

Green was an assistant coach under Walsh at Stanford from 1976-78. Then when Walsh became 49ers coach in 1979, he gave Green his first NFL job as a receivers and special teams coach.

Green left the 49ers after the 1979 season, but he rejoined Walsh's staff in 1986 and served a three-year stint as receivers coach.

"I've always been a part of the 49er family," Green said.

Green had been a candidate for the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching job. But he withdrew his name from consideration last week when Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver refused to offer him the dual role of coach and general manager.

The 49ers' opening is strictly for a coach, not a coach/general manager. But Green said that's not a problem in this case.

"San Francisco is totally different," he said. "What I would be looking for ... would be head coach and head coach only. They have a way of doing things. They have more Super Bowl championships than (any other team). They like the way they do things."

Walsh will help 49ers general manager Terry Donahue compile a list of coaching candidates. When it comes time to hire a coach, John York, the team's owner representative, will have the final say.

Walsh lobbied Weaver hard to hire Green.

"Dennis Green is as good as they get," Walsh told the Jacksonville Times-Union on Sunday after learning Green had withdrawn his name from consideration for the Jaguars' job. "How could that not happen with him in Jacksonville? I'm so very disappointed in that.

"I feel so disappointed about that because I spoke to Wayne at length about him many times."

Donahue, a former UCLA coach, said he had yet to choose any candidates for the job. But he said he was "not interested" in the job.

"I'm going to talk to some of the coaches on this staff," Donahue said. "I think clearly there are some people on this staff and also nationally, whether it be pro football or college football, that would be great head coaches."

From the 49ers' staff, defensive coordinator Jim Mora -- son of former New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora -- appears to be the most likely candidate. He would be much less expensive than an experienced coach such as Green, which could help his cause.

Receivers coach George Stewart is another possibility. In the past, he was a coaching candidate at Arkansas, where he played college football. It can't hurt that he has a great rapport with wide receiver Terrell Owens, the 49ers' best player.

Earlier this season, Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren was rumored to be a possible replacement for Mariucci. Holmgren was stripped of his title as general manager after the season but is still under contract as Seattle's coach.

Oklahoma's Bob Stoops is one of the hottest coaches from the college ranks. He also happens to be from Youngstown, Ohio, the home of team owner Denise DeBartolo York and her husband, John.

Washington coach Rick Neuheisel played quarterback for Donahue at UCLA. Does that make him a potential candidate? Stay tuned.

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