The Press Democrat

Assistant coaches left in 49er limbo
January 16, 2003
None fired with Mariucci, but several have contracts that soon will expire


SANTA CLARA -- When Steve Mariucci found himself out of a job Wednesday morning, the fate of every assistant coach on his staff immediately was thrown into question.

The 49ers have not fired any assistant coaches, team owner John York said. But there are certain to be radical changes on a staff that had remained relatively static for most of Mariucci's six seasons with the team.

Seven of the team's assistant coaches do not have contracts for next season, including offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.

Although Mariucci was roundly criticized for his conservative play-calling, it was Knapp who had control of the offense. The 49ers' passing attack was ranked 14th in the NFL.

"Everybody is pretty happy with Greg's progress," York said.

Yet, York intimated that Mariucci's loyalty to his assistant coaches was one of the many issues that contributed to his firing Wednesday morning. York said he was not displeased with Mariucci's philosophical approach on the field.

"Not in terms of the direct performance of the team on the field," York said. "I think some of the things, with regards to the assessment of the assistant coaches, but not the players and not the direction of the offense or defense."

The other coaches whose contracts are set to expire are: Tom Rathman (running backs), Tom Batta (tight ends), George Stewart (receivers), Dwaine Board (defensive line), Richard Smith (linebackers) and Bruce DeHaven (special teams).

Smith and DeHaven coached previously with Mariucci and would appear to be long shots to return under a new coach next season.

"There are a number of coaches on this staff who have contracts, and those contracts will be honored," 49ers general manager Terry Donahue said. "When we name a new coach, I hope that whoever is named the new head coach will look at our staff and the coaches here."

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