49ers Dodge A Bullet
February, 26, 2002
With Tampa Bay Buccaneers ownership's decision to trade for Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden the San Francisco 49ers dodged a potentially lethal bullet last week.
Given permission by 49ers management to speak to the Buccaneers and with the issue of compensation all worked out, it looked as though head coach Steve Mariucci was on his way.
Thankfully though Mariucci will serve his sixth year as an NFL head coach with the 49ers.
Had events transpired differently then team General Manager Terry Donahue would have had to find a successor to the well liked and talented coach who led a team that was supposed to be no better than 8-8 to a 12-4 record, a six game turnaround on the previous year.
Suitable candidates to be Mariucci's successor were somewhat thin on the ground.
Offensive Coordinator Greg Knapp is highly rated by the team but has only filled that role for a year.
Defensive Coordiantor Jim Mora is also on the young side, although he is an experienced, knowledgable and talented coach.
Former Vikings head coach Dennis Green could hardly be seen as a suitable coach for the young team the 49ers have put together following on from the Vikings collapse last season.
The main rumour circulating was that Donahue would become coach but the events that led to Gruden becoming coach of his home town franchise meant that all of the conjecture became irrelevant.
So with expectations to succeed higher Mariucci stays with the 49ers.
He must guide his team to further improvement, to victory over the St. Louis Rams, to a further trip to the postseason and make roads into the Playoffs to improve on last year.
He must also make peace with tempermental receiver Terrell Owens, and hopefully then the team will reward him with the long term, improved contract that he seeks.
If all of the above happens then it will be a successful year for Mariucci and his team. And if all of the above happens then the future will continue to look rosy for the improving franchise.
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