Fans' mail on Mooch is a mixed bag
January 19, 2003
Some take aim at 49ers' brass; others are glad coach is gone
Editor -- My father, a lifelong 49er fan from that first game at Kezar, had a name for people who behave like John York: "bush-league." After three decades of watching this team, I'll pass on the John York years.
GLAD HE'S GONE
Editor -- The only thing bad about the firing of Steve Mariucci is that it didn't happen soon enough. I have been a 49er fan since the days of Joe Perry and Hugh McElhenny. Win or lose, the Niners were always exciting and innovative, e.g., rotating quarterbacks Y. A. Tittle, John Brodie, and Billy Kilmer. In the past six years the team has been boring, predictable, and overrated.
When I heard that Mariucci had been named head coach, I shook my head in disbelief. His only head coaching experience had been one year at Cal, where he compiled a 6-6 record, finishing the season losing to underdog Navy in some obscure bowl. I started to believe the rumor that he was hired because General Manager Bill Walsh woke up one morning and found a bloody horse's head in his bed.
FORREST G. WOOD
TAKING A BREAK
Editor -- So Steve Mariucci coaches the 49ers for six years and will now be paid to not coach them for a year. Here at the Pacific School of Religion we don't call that being fired. We call that going on sabbatical.
HE'LL BE MISSED
Editor -- Only in the NFL -- and within the hierarchy of the 49ers in particular -- can a hard working, dedicated, successful and beloved head coach be fired.
Does anyone believe booting the coach will catapult San Francisco into the 2004 Super Bowl with the players in place right now?
Steve Mariucci will be greatly missed in this fan's home and heart.
Editor -- As a football Giants fan, I'm still recovering from my team's collapse against the 49ers. I never bought the argument that the officials cost my team the win; the Giants' defense and special teams did a fine job by themselves. But I remain upset with Steve Mariucci's succinct, sarcastic, one- word comment when he was told that the officials blew that late interference call: "Bummer."
Steve, you've been fired by the 49ers? Bummer.
North Potomac, Md.
Editor -- What do you do with a coach who's among the elite in the league, who has brought your franchise back from the depths of Salary Cap Hell in record time? If you're the 49ers, you send him out of town on a rail. Combine this with John York's impending budget cuts and the continuing embarrassment of playing in Candlestick Park, and the 49ers' future is becoming clear: They're in danger of becoming a league laughingstock. Bill Parcells is in the saddle in Dallas, and even the Bengals have a new stadium and a well-respected new coach. Watch out, Arizona Cardinals -- the 49ers are on their way down to you.
STEP UP, BILL
Editor -- Since Bill Walsh feels the need to continue coaching football -- there's an opening!
TOUGH ON ICONS
Editor -- For all the talk of running a class organization, there is no franchise in sports that dispatches their icons like the San Francisco 49ers. Legends like Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice were all shown the door in inglorious fashion. Bill Walsh was under so much pressure his last season as coach, he had a nervous breakdown despite winning the Super Bowl. George Seifert was pushed out of the saloon like a broken-down piano player. Eddie D. ? Banished for attempted bribery in Louisiana. Add to the list the remains of popular coach Steve Mariucci, as John York and Terry Donahue embarrass themselves in public by concocting a fairy-tale version of the events.
Enjoy your time in the penthouse, T.O. When it's all said and done, you'll be kicked down the stairs just like everyone else.
Editor -- Two reasons York fired Mariucci. First, he is the last of the DeBartolo Era. Second, I think Walsh and Donahue whispered lies into York's ear about Mariucci wanting more power. Why? Because Walsh and especially Donahue want to control the coach. Whoever they hire, I bet it will not be one with experience and that he'll go along with whatever he is told.
I don't believe a football team can be run like a corporation. For one thing, the players are more important than the management, and emotion plays a big part in running a football organization. In a corporation, it is a cold business based only on profit.
IT COULD BE WORSE
Editor -- I know it takes more than a head coach to win games. But I'm from Detroit, where we know all about changing coaches. They usually come in for four years, go 9-7 in a good season, 7-9 in a bad one (although the current guys have hit a new low) and then get replaced by someone who's going to "turn things around." You note Bobby Ross, Wayne Fontes, Rick Forzano and Monte Clark didn't go on to have brilliant careers somewhere else, so it's not just the organization and it's not just that easy to find a coach.
I wouldn't comment on "philosophical differences," because I don't know the inner workings of the 49ers, but I do know that in the last month, Steve Mariucci won as many playoff games as all the Detroit Lions coaches, combined, have won in the last 40 years.
Editor -- You'd have thought the 49ers would have learned something from the deplorable manner in which the Giants sacked Dusty Baker, having the front office attempt to portray him as a tax evader as they kicked him out the door.
But no. Whether or not Mariucci was the best man for the job is not now the issue. The issue is whether the brass could have done anything to make themselves look worse than they did by attempting to portray Mariucci as taking the ax to his own head. Their ham-handed effort to make the Mooch look like the bad guy is a P.R. gaffe that hurts the organization far worse than sitting on the ball for the last 50 seconds of a first half ever could. The Genius, his underling, and Mr. Gottbucks owe the Mooch an apology. And a thank you for a job well done.
NOT A G.M.
Editor -- I cannot believe Steve Mariucci thought himself to be GM material for the 49ers; he lost five regular-season games because the team went to sleep in the fourth quarter.
LEE A. SCHOENBART
WHAT GOES AROUND
Editor -- Steve Mariucci's abrupt firing is very pleasing to this California Golden Bear alum. The suddenness is equitable to his quitting the Cal football team after one season, thus leading Cal to hire Tom Holmoe. Now things come full circle, Cal has a successful first-year coach in Jeff Tedford, and Mariucci is out as head coach of the 49ers. Sometimes karma works in funny ways; Mariucci got what he deserved. Steve Mariucci, please pack your bags and your me-first attitude and get out of the Bay Area.
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