49ers Clubhouse 

Donahue Springs Surprise

February 14, 2003

by James Parrott
Clubhouse Staff Writer

When The 49ers announced Oregon State’s Dennis Erickson as their new Head Coach, it was more than a little surprising.

Erickson hadn’t been mentioned as a candidate, and the consensus was that the job would probably go to New York Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell.

Instead, Erickson was given $2,5 million per year to take another shot at succeeding as a head man in the National Football League.

Much of the press so far has focused on the negative aspects of Erickson’s past.

His 31-33 record as coach of the Seattle Seahawks. The notoriety of his spell as Miami Hurricanes coach and the classless, showboating human beings that represented Erickson’s Hurricanes on the field and the NCAA sanctions that crippled the program in the mid-1990’s. His problems with alcohol.

All, no doubt, taken into consideration by Terry Donahue and John York.

Fact remains that Erickson is every bit the aggressive football man that Donahue was looking for.

To be fair to Erickson, his tenure in Seattle coincided with ownership and location troubles.
Also, the team he inherited was coming off a combined 14-34 record over the previous three seasons and his successor Mike Holmgren has only managed the same record over the past four years.

Of more interest to 49er fans, his 1997 Seahawk team led the league in passing.

As we saw in Seattle, once Erickson has the weapons he can put points on the board. In San Francisco he has better talent than his 95-98 Seattle team and even though the offense are ideally one or two players short (fast receiver, blah blah blah.....) he will be expected to translate points into wins.

Finally, as for the argument that the 49ers win with class, this is the team that drafted Charles Haley and Bill Romanowski, featured bitter wars for the starting quarterback job and ownership and admitted to breaking the league’s salary cap rules.

And regardless of whether or not Erickson was to blame for the reputation of his team in Coral Gables, Florida, this Niners team could use a shot of attitude and killer instinct.

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