The Press Democrat

Day later, Garcia emotionally drained
January 07, 2003


SANTA CLARA -- Approximately 24 hours after pulling off the second-biggest comeback in NFL playoff history, 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia looked too weary even to try to comprehend his achievement.

"I don't know if I will truly grasp the greatness of it until I'm probably not playing the game any more," Garcia said. "Or when I see it being played on ESPN Classics or something.

"It was awesome. I feel more tired right now. After a game like that, you can never really settle down after all that took place."

Garcia's inspired performance helped lead the 49ers to a 39-38 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday in an NFC wild-card playoff game.

Garcia completed just five passes in the first half. It wasn't until the Giants had taken a 38-14 lead late in the third quarter that the 49ers implemented the no-huddle offense and Garcia did what he does best.

"I think it's not so much the no-huddle offense, but I think it's the fact that we opened up the offense," Garcia said. "We didn't try to continue to push something that wasn't working. The running game wasn't as effective as we would have liked it to be. It came to the point where we had to get away from it."

Garcia threw for 220 yards in the second half, with two touchdowns and two two-point conversion passes. He also rushed for a touchdown.

When coach Steve Mariucci was driving home from the game, he heard the question from his wife, Gayle, that is on the mind of every fan.

"Why don't you do that the whole game?" she asked.

The 49ers tried the no-huddle offense to open their game Dec. 15 against the Green Bay Packers with modest results, gaining 17 yards on six plays before punting.

"We needed a sense of urgency," Mariucci said. "We needed to forget about the huddles. It was our only chance to make the most out of every possession we had left."


Vinny Sutherland will take over the punt-return duties from Cedrick Wilson, whose muffed punt turned the momentum in the Giants' favor before halftime. Sutherland will assume the role he held last season, special-teams coach Bruce DeHaven said. Wilson's turnover led to a quick Giants' touchdown for a 21-14 lead. New York added another touchdown to take a 14-point lead into halftime.


Kicker Jeff Chandler, who twisted his ankle Sunday in pregame warm-ups, was able to play after taking a pain-killing injection and getting his ankle wrapped under his sock and outside his shoe. Chandler said he hoped to be able to kick Friday and Saturday in practice.

"I've seen a lot of things before but that was a dandy," Mariucci said.

Cornerback Jason Webster, who did not play because of a left ankle sprain, is still listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"The pain is going away, the limp is going away, the crutches are gone, but he still has some swelling we need to reduce," Mariucci said.

Guard Ron Stone (left ankle), tackle Derrick Deese (left ankle), defensive end Sean Moran (right Achilles) and safety Zack Bronson (left foot) are expected to play. Bronson, playing his first game after missing 11 weeks with a broken foot, left the game with two minutes left in the third quarter. After having an X-ray on his foot, Bronson declared himself 100 percent. The 49ers are expecting linebacker Saleem Rasheed (left thigh) to be available to play on special teams.

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