Cottrell makes his pitch to be 49ers' head coach
February 06, 2003
Kevin Lynch, Chronicle Staff Writer
Standing before a glass case containing five gleaming Super Bowl trophies, Ted Cottrell faced a handful of media in the 49ers' lobby.
It could be the most daunting part of the interview process for Cottrell, the New York Jets defensive coordinator who is the first of three candidates to be called back for a second interview in the 49ers' search for a head coach.
Niners defensive coordinator Jim Mora Jr. will meet the media today, and Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache is due Friday to meet the media and tour the 49ers' facility.
Cottrell, 55, displayed his big laugh and his appreciation for the 49ers' interview process, and exuded some fire.
This is the seventh head-coaching position Cottrell, an African American, has interviewed for. "I've had seven talk to me and four of them have been, what I call, legitimate interviews, and three of them have been bullcrap sessions," he said. "Excuse my language about that, but that's how I feel about it."
Including the 49ers, Cottrell has been in contention for head-coaching jobs with the San Diego Chargers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills and the Jets.
Nevertheless, with his short quote, Cottrell portrayed what many have said about him. He's straightforward and not above getting excited about a topic.
Cottrell was due to have dinner with owner John York and general manager Terry Donahue on Wednesday night, and will then talk to York again this morning before flying back to the East Coast.
Presumably, Mora and Blache will go through the same process.
Donahue, who is heading up the search, was unavailable for comment. But sources say there has been talk of trying to bring in college head coaches Dennis Erickson of Oregon State and Rick Neuheisel of Washington.
Whether either one of them will interview is another matter. Erickson, who was once the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, has said privately that he would like to have general manager authority if he were to re-enter the NFL.
However, Erickson might be disenchanted with the school after it brought in a new athletic director.
Authority, however, is something he would not get with the 49ers. Also, Erickson is an offensive coach who adheres to a spread, multi-receiver scheme, which is much different from a West Coast offense.
Neuheisel would be a more likely candidate. While a quarterback at UCLA in 1984, Neuheisel led the Donahue-coached Bruins to a 45-9 Rose Bowl win over Illinois.
Anonymous sources say he Washington head coach has had more than one conversation with Donahue, but isn't sure he wants to leave the school.
Neuheisel and Erickson said there has been no official contact with the 49ers. Washington athletic director Barbara Hedges said she hadn't heard from the 49ers in regard to Neuheisel either.
That could leave Cottrell, Mora or Blache as the next 49ers' head coach.
The Jets started slowly this season defensively, giving up an average of 32. 4 points and 190.8 rushing yards a game through the first five games.
After simplifying the scheme, the Jets yielded an average of 15.8 points and 100.7 rushing yards over the last 11 games.
"We had six new starters on defense," Cottrell said. "Those new faces were hard to blend in."
Now the question remains whether Cottrell will be the newest face with the 49ers. When asked about the possibility of a college coach coming out of nowhere and scooping up the job, Cottrell thought for a moment.
"If he does, he does," Cottrell reasoned. "But I'm here right now. That's the only thing I can control."
Tell us what you think on the new 49ers Clubhouse message board.