Green covets 49ers job
January 16, 2003
WHO'S NEXT: Donahue will narrow the list, York will choose next coach
By MATT MAIOCCO
SANTA CLARA -- If Dennis Green really wants to be coach of the 49ers, he might have spoken out against the wrong man.
A year ago, star receiver Terrell Owens had a public feud with 49ers coach Steve Mariucci that nearly tore the team apart. Mariucci had to travel in the offseason to Atlanta, where Owens makes his offseason home, to patch up their differences.
Based on his comments of a couple of months ago, Owens is not fond of Green, who began his campaign Wednesday to be the next coach of the 49ers after Mariucci was fired.
Green spoke out against Owens in his role as an ESPN studio analyst after the famed Sharpie game. Owens, who is known for his stubbornness and long memory in holding grudges, was angered by Green's remarks.
"The criticism that hurt me most is that I'm dishonoring the game, have no class, no respect," Owens said in an interview with ESPN Magazine. "Who is Dennis Green to say that, when he couldn't control Randy Moss?
"I'm disrespecting the game? I'm not the one with the rap sheet. ... I've never taken a play off or not blocked. I guess walking off the ball and not blocking anyone like Randy is respecting the game, huh, Coach?"
Green, 53, compiled a 101-71 record in 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. His teams made the playoffs eight times during. He was fired after last season.
In an interview with ESPN, Green said he is interested in rejoining the organization. He coached receivers and special teams in 1979, Bill Walsh's first season as head coach. He returned to coach receivers from 1986 to '88.
"I've always considered myself part of the 49er family," Green said. "I think for a couple reasons it's a very attractive job."
One of the big questions is whether the 49ers will want to hire a coach already disliked by the team's most important and temperamental player.
General manager Terry Donahue, who said he is not a candidate to replace Mariucci, said he will immediately start the search for the 14th coach of the 49ers on behalf of owner John York, who will make the final call.
"I think my responsibility will be to put together an initial list of candidates for the organization to consider," Donahue said, "screen that list and try to get it down to a finalist group. Then, present that list to John and ultimately, John will select who he wants as his new head coach."
When the 49ers began to make contingency plans last season to replace Mariucci during his flirtation with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Donahue said the team would consider four candidates on the coaching staff.
Defensive coordinator Jim Mora probably is the top candidate on the current staff. Although he has stated a desire to become a head coach like his father, he might be considered too loyal to Mariucci.
Receivers coach George Stewart, who has a strong relationship with Owens, is seen as a legitimate contender. Stewart is expected to leave the 49ers to join the staff of Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy unless he is selected as head coach.
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp is seen as a candidate who needs more seasoning and is not considered a serious candidate. And offensive line coach Pat Morris is seemingly content to remain in his role.
One prominent coach who does not appear to be an option is Seattle's Mike Holmgren, formerly a 49ers assistant. Holmgren has four years remaining on his Seahawks contact at an annual salary of $4 million.
"I think clearly there are some people on this staff and also nationally, whether it be pro football or college football, that would be great head coaches now that Steve is not our coach," Donahue said.
"We just have to find the right person and put him in place."
York said he is eager to consider African-American coaches in the search. On Tuesday, the Cincinnati Bengals made Marvin Lewis just the eighth African-American coach in NFL history. He is one of three current black NFL coaches.
"There is no question that we are going to have viable African-American coaches on the list and that if that is the best coach to be hired, there is no question that we would be hiring him," York said.
Green and Stewart are black, as are other respected NFL assistant coaches Ted Cottrell, defensive coordinator of the New York Jets, and Lovie Smith, defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams.
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