San Francisco Examiner

Newberry talks more trash
January 08, 2003
Of The Examiner Staff

SANTA CLARA -- Center Jeremy Newberry didn't issue the headline-grabbing salvo that he delivered last week, when he vowed the 49ers would kick the Giants' ass.

But he did say Monday that he expected the 49ers to emerge victorious Sunday when they travel to Tampa to face the Buccaneers in a NFC divisional playoff game at Raymond James Stadium.

"I'm confident in this team," Newberry said. "I think we're going to kick whosever ass we play."

Ah, did you get that, Warren Sapp?

The brash center may feel that way, but he recognizes that the Buccaneers will present an entirely different set of challenges for the 49ers, for Tampa Bay is an entirely different beast, particularly on defense.

The Bucs finished the season with the NFL's top-ranked defense -- No. 1 against the run and No. 5 against the pass. They have a pass-rushing defensive end in Simeon Rice, a run-stuffing tackle in Sapp, a tough safety in John Lynch and an excellent cover corner in Ronde Barber.

And they'll be much more difficult to move the ball against than were the Giants, whose defense allowed the 49ers to overcome a 24-point deficit in their 39-38 wild-card win. "Tampa Bay has a great defense," Newberry said. "They're not going to give us nothing."

NO ON NO-HUDDLE? Coach Steve Mariucci appeared somewhat reluctant to resort to the no-huddle offense, which helped quarterback Jeff Garcia regain his rhythm and played a prominent role in the 49ers' comeback victory.

The 49ers used the no-huddle offense on their first possession in their 20-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Candlestick Park on Dec. 12 -- and went three-and-out. So, Mariucci warned, it might not be the answer to the Niners' offensive problems that many assert it could be.

"We opened the game against Green Bay with the no-huddle. It wasn't the same result," Mariucci said. "My wife asked me why don't you just do that the whole game? Sometimes that sort of thing works."

The primary drawback, Mariucci noted, is if the no-huddle isn't effective, then the defense is forced to go back on the field without adequate rest. Going an entire game with the no-huddle could leave the 49ers' defense gassed late in the fourth quarter.

RENEWED RESPECT: The first thing special-teams coach Bruce DeHaven did when he met with his players was congratulate them on their effort.

Then, he turned to long-snapper Brian Jennings and said, "I'm sure glad you're on our team."

Jennings gained significantly more appreciation after DeHaven watched Giants long-snapper Trey Junkin's knuckleball on what could have been a game-winning, 41-yard field goal Sunday. Junkin, 41, was signed early last week.

Said Jennings, "To me, it's unfortunate that it happened to a guy like that. He's had a long career and he's really a respectable guy. He was in a difficult situation. He was at his house all year and they call him up and tell him to snap in the biggest game to play to date. It's a tough situation."

INJURY REPORT: Right guard Ron Stone (ankle), left tackle Derrick Deese (ankle) and defensive end Sean Mora (strained Achilles') are listed as probable. Mariucci said he doesn't expect them -- or kicker Jeff Chandler (sprained left ankle) -- to practice much this week. Safety Zack Bronson's left foot is sore but he should be able to play Sunday.

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