Garcia's comments draw Walsh's ire
January 19, 2003
Kevin Lynch, Chronicle Staff Writer
The 49ers are still staggering from the repercussions of firing head coach Steve Mariucci.
Quarterback Jeff Garcia adamantly supported Mariucci on his weekly radio show on KNBR. Garcia also said he didn't think Mariucci ever had the confidence to run his team and one reason Garcia cited was the willingness of others to "speak to the team whenever (they felt) necessary."
Team consultant and former coach and general manager Bill Walsh took exception to Garcia's remarks Saturday.
"I maybe spoke to the team four times in six months," Walsh said. "I just think it's very disappointing. It's unfortunate that people would attack me about the developments. But I know this is an emotional time and I understand why Jeff said it."
Walsh said when he spoke to the team he did so at the request of coaches. Walsh's last speech came the night before the 49ers beat the Giants 39-38 in a wild card playoff game at Candlestick two weeks ago.
One person who has heard most of Walsh's speeches said they were similar to Mariucci's talks. Walsh disputed this.
"There was no mimicking," he said.
Walsh's main point was a concern for the organization after the surprise firing of a coach that most players liked and admired.
"I know this is an emotional time," Walsh said. "But we can't cannibalize ourselves if we hope to more forward."
Walsh made the comments in response to Garcia's quotes Friday to the radio station.
"I don't know if he really felt or believed or had the confidence from others that this was his team," Garcia said, referring to Mariucci. Then Garcia paraphrased what he believed management's attitude was toward the head coach.
"Yeah, it's your team, but we are going to step in and speak to the team whenever we feel it's necessary. Or give advice whenever we feel it's necessary. Not that advice isn't warranted," Garcia said. "I think it's more than a conflict between Dr. York and coach Mariucci. It's something that's been going on for a long time and it's something that everyone outside the organization can see or recognize. It's not a secret."
Walsh knows all about coaching transitions. After an upset loss to the Vikings following the 1987 season, Walsh was stripped of his title as team president by then-owner Eddie DeBartolo. Walsh later resigned as coach after winning the Super Bowl in 1988.
The team will ponder its options for its next head coach this weekend. Owner John York has returned to his home in Youngstown, Ohio, and doesn't plan on going to next Sunday's Super Bowl in San Diego. General manager Terry Donahue stole away for a day or two to his Southern California home and Walsh will spend part of the holiday weekend in Monterey.
Tell us what you think on the new 49ers Clubhouse message board.