San Francisco Examiner

Mariucci offers discount
January 15, 2003
Of The Examiner Staff

SANTA CLARA -- Steve Mariucci said Monday he would accept a salary at less than market value to remain as coach of the 49ers while indicating he would like to have his contract situation resolved before the Super Bowl.

Mariucci delivered what he called his "state of the union address" as players emptied their lockers at a somber team headquarters and headed toward an off-season of uncertainty surrounding their coach.

He provided a detailed outline for the team in the coming months, but much of the conversation following Sunday's 31-6 playoff loss to Tampa Bay focused on his future.

When pressed about taking less money to stay in San Francisco, Mariucci said: "The answer is yes. ... Often times when somebody loves being at their place of employment, sometimes you will continue to stay there and say no to something else because you're on a mission to accomplish something where you are. So, yes, those are things we take into consideration. Absolutely."

Mariucci will not meet with owner representative John York today despite published reports about a meeting.

The 49ers issued a statement saying that some members of the media "misinterpreted John York's comments following our loss at Tampa Bay (Sunday). It has been reported that he and Steve Mariucci would have a sit-down meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to start the negotiation process. That is incorrect."

York said Sunday that he would call Mariucci today to discuss a time for a formal meeting, but Mariucci was not aware of his intention.

"John is in Youngstown (Ohio) and I'm here," he said. "We don't have a date scheduled ... there's no definite timetable, there's no ultimatums, there's no agenda."

Nevertheless, with the contracts of eight assistant coaches expiring this month and the free agency period looming, there is a sense of urgency for the organization and its veteran coach to reach an understanding.

Next season would be Mariucci's seventh with the team. The 49ers have made the playoffs in four of his six seasons and in 2002 won the NFC West title for the first time since 1997.

He has one year remaining on his contract at $2.2 million. Mariucci made $2.1 million this season (19th-highest among the 32 NFL coaches), but there has been talk that the Jacksonville Jaguars are interested in him filling their coaching vacancy. Officially, they have not requested permission to speak with him.

"Soon," he said when asked when he would like to a deal to be finalized with the Niners.

Two weeks, three weeks?

"Sure, sure," he said.

Before or after the Super Bowl?

"When's the Super Bowl? In two weeks? You know, whenever it's right," he said. "Whenever it's right for both parties to sit down and spend the appropriate amount of time and think through it thoroughly and do it the right way."

Mariucci also reiterated his willingness to coach next season in the final year of his contract without receiving an extension.

"Is it possible to go into a final year without a contract? Sure it is. I suppose that's one of the scenarios, one of the possibilities."

Ultimately, despite criticism from fans and the media and speculation that general manager Terry Donahue would prefer to hire his own coach rather than continue to work with the one he inherited, Mariucci spoke as if he plans to be around next season.

"We've got some work to do and we all know that," he said. "That's why our off-season needs to be very productive. We know what's in front of us, where we've got to go. We know where we have to get better. We have a good nucleus of players in there. I love those guys."

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