York's move gives 49ers a real mess
February 04, 2003
BECAUSE OF John York's stupid decision to fire Steve Mariucci, general manager Terry Donahue is struggling to put together a decent list of candidates to replace Mariucci.
Two candidates, Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and Philadelphia offensive coordinator Brad Childress, have used the 49ers' interest to negotiate better contracts with their teams.
Usually, coordinators jump at the chance to get a head-coaching job, but the 49ers' job is no plum. A new coach would have to contend with a meddling owner and expectations that are much higher than the talent level.
So, Donahue has an uninspiring group of candidates. If you took that list and added Mari- ucci's name, I doubt there's a general manager in the league who wouldn't prefer Mariucci.
It's possible that, after Wednesday's letter-of-intent day, Donahue will look at college head coaches. Without knowing anything about their availability, there are two standouts in my mind: Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Oregon's Mike Bellotti.
Stoops is the candidate of former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo. Remember that Eddie wanted Jimmy Johnson to replace Bill Walsh, but Walsh was able to ease in George Seifert. In retrospect, Johnson probably would have been a better choice.
Hiring a college coach used to be risky, but with the constant turnover on pro teams, a college coach's experience in handling that kind of turnover is valuable. I'd much rather see a proven college head coach than an untested pro assistant.
Donahue has said privately that he's looking for somebody to just "coach ball." Translation: He doesn't want a media star like Mariucci. That would seem to rule out high-profile college coaches.
Meanwhile, assistant coaches are leaving the 49ers, and finding replacements for them will cut into draft preparation time. Though many 49ers fans would like to see Walsh more involved, it's more likely that he'll try to distance himself from this train wreck.
It's a mess. The franchise is going in entirely the wrong direction. Thank you, Dr. York.
NO SHOWS: No surprise that the Raiders didn't make it to the city-sponsored rally. They didn't show up for the Super Bowl, either. But hey, wasn't Rich Gannon great in the Pro Bowl? . . . Teammates haven't liked Gannon because of his tendency to blame others when things go wrong, but they've put up with it because he was helping them win. After his Super Bowl fiasco, they might have less patience with him next season. . . . Other franchises alienate their fans by losing. The Raiders did it while winning. Credit the marketing genius of Al Davis.
GO BEARS: Jeff Tedford is making good on his promise to get top state prospects. Rivals.com says Cal has gotten commitments from 15 of the top 100 California prospects; only USC, with 20, ranks higher. Tedford has concentrated on defensive players and emphasized speed.
LAST CHANCE: Next week's Siebel Open probably will be the final time Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras play together in a Bay Area tournament; Agassi seems ready to go on forever, but Sampras has dropped broad hints that this will be his last year.
Promoter Barry MacKay naturally hopes that the two will meet in the Sunday final but he'll need some help. Agassi is top-seeded in the tournament, with Paradorn Srichaphan No. 2. A coin flip at Friday's draw will determine whether Sampras, seeded third in the Siebel, will be in the bracket with Agassi or Srichaphan.
SAY IT AIN'T SO: New Giants manager Felipe Alou is not helping himself with his plans to bat Barry Bonds fourth behind Jose Cruz. Though Cruz is a good addition because he gives the Giants another center-field option when Marquis Grissom has to be benched against right-handed pitchers, he's a rally-killer with his frequent strikeouts. Bonds should hit third, behind Ray Durham and Rich Aurilia, so he'll be certain to bat in the first inning -- hopefully with both Durham and Aurilia on base.
BUSY BROADCASTER: Amaury Pi-Gonzalez has signed a two-year contract to do the first Spanish broadcasts for the Seattle Mariners, 81 home games. Pi- Gonzalez also will do most of the 40 (home weekends and holidays) Spanish broadcasts for Giants games. Looks like lots of frequent-flier miles ahead... Alou will be inducted into the Hispanic History Baseball Museum, along with Preston Gomez and Cookie Rojas, at the museum's second annual dinner, Feb. 22 at the Cathedral Hill Hotel. Phone (877) 228-4726 for ticket information.
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