San Francisco Chronicle

Owens unmasks a looser demeanor
January 10, 2003
Kevin Lynch

A man wearing a Spider-Man outfit strolled into the 49ers' locker room.

No one knew who it was until he took the mask off and there was the beaming face of wide receiver Terrell Owens.

Owens, who usually doesn't talk to the media, wasn't asked about his Spider- Man getup.

Even if Owens isn't speaking, there seems to be a difference in his demeanor this season. After last year's loss to Green Bay, Owens called his agent and told him he wanted out of San Francisco. He even pleaded with the agent to have the 49ers place Owens on the Houston Texans expansion list.

The 49ers refused to comply, Owens and head coach Steve Mariucci made peace and everything has gone smoothly. Those close to Owens say he maintains a good relationship with Mariucci and wants to see the coach remain with the team.

Mariucci has a year remaining on his contract after this season and will presumably enter into extension talks after the season.

Mariucci has noticed a difference in Owens this year. "You see him smiling, he's more communicative with players and coaches," Mariucci said. "I think he's enjoying this. I really do think he's enjoying it more so than he has in the last year, and it shows. He's fun to be around."

Owens is also returning to better health with the help of his medical entourage. His trainer is in town this week, and his doctor was staying at a nearby hotel last week. Owens has been trying to recover from a groin pull injury and was described as only 80 percent healthy last week, even though he caught nine passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants.

Owens is expected to be even healthier this Sunday.

INJURY UPDATE: Cornerback Jason Webster was held out of practice Thursday and is still listed as questionable with a sprained ankle.

Owens practiced in limited fashion. Tackle Derrick Deese (ankle), guard Ron Stone (ankle) and center Jeremy Newberry (ankle) were all held out of practice Thursday. Nevertheless, Mariucci said all will play Sunday.

"They might be a little sore, but they are going to go," Mariucci said.

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