The Press Democrat

Gruden admits mistake in evaluating Garcia in '99
January 09, 2003

SANTA CLARA -- Jeff Garcia or Andre Ware?

This question seems pretty simple now, but in early 1999 it seemed to have then-Raiders coach Jon Gruden stumped. The Raiders signed Ware, a former Heisman-winning quarterback, and passed on Garcia, who had worked out for the Raiders after his fifth season in the Canadian Football League.

A month later, Garcia signed with the 49ers.

"Yeah, when they signed Andre Ware, I was somewhat in disbelief," Garcia said Wednesday. "I couldn't believe they would sign a guy I didn't feel was any better than me."

This is all revisionist history, says Gruden, who readily admits to taking a swing and miss in his evaluation of Garcia.

"That was a different story," Gruden said. "We didn't choose between the two. It can be written and said that way but that was never part of the equation."

Gruden has moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will face Garcia and the 49ers on Sunday in an NFC divisional playoff game. Gruden still calls his missed evaluation on Garcia one of his biggest mistakes.

"I obviously didn't do a very good job of evaluating that workout," Gruden said. "I applaud Jeff Garcia personally after competing with him in a previous employment (as coach of the Raiders). I think he's a great player."

Said Garcia: "I appreciate that and I think the major thing was when I worked out for him, he really didn't have any idea of what I was capable of doing on the football field when everything was going on around me. It was more of how I looked in a one-on-one workout."

Garcia is coming off his first NFL playoff victory. He passed for 331 yards and rushed for a team-high 60 yards in leading the 49ers to a 39-38 victory over the New York Giants.

After rallying his team from a 24-point deficit, Garcia was named NFC Offensive Player of the Year.


The 49ers signed linebacker Terry Killens for much-needed help on special teams. Killens was the 49ers' leading special-teams tackler in 2001. To make room for Killens on the 53-man roster, the team released safety Jason Moore.

Cornerback Jason Webster did not practice, but coach Steve Mariucci hopes he will be able to work out later in the week and play in Sunday's game. Receiver Terrell Owens (groin), guard Ron Stone (left ankle) and tackle Derrick Deese (left tackle all skipped practice but should be ready to play. Also, center Jeremy Newberry sustained a left ankle sprain and was limited in practice but should not be hampered by Sunday.

Tampa defensive tackle Warren Sapp said he likes the approach of the 49ers' center -- even though he doesn't know his name.

Newberry made some waves last week when he said about the Giants: "We're going to kick their ass."

Said Sapp: "This game is all about confidence. If you don't believe in yourself, then who will? I have to take my hat off to Mayberry, the young fellow Mayberry or whatever his name may be. He has confidence in himself because he goes to work every day and works hard."

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