The Oakland Tribune

Time isn't right to talk contract
January 02, 2003
By Roger Phillips STAFF WRITER

SANTA CLARA -- From the early days of training camp, San Francisco 49ers owner John York has postponed talk of a contract extension for coach Steve Mariucci until after this season.

Mariucci, whose contract expires after next season, said he isn't thinking about the situation, even though this season could end in a few days.

"We're so entrenched preparing for the game, we have no time to dwell on anything but winning the game," said Mariucci, whose team opens the playoffs against the New York Giants on Sunday at Candlestick Park. "It's as simple as that."

Asked how soon after the season he and York might discuss his future, Mariucci said, "We're not done yet. And hopefully, we'll keep playing for a while."

When the season ends, roughly half of Mariucci's assistants will have completed their contracts. They also remain in limbo.

Giants coach Jim Fassel received a contract extension before this season, but he said he can relate to Mariucci's situation. Fassel's job security has been shaky at times, even though he coached the Giants to the Super Bowl two years ago.

Asked if he was surprised about Mariucci's job insecurity, Fassel said, "Have you read the New York papers this season? Heck, I was considered out of here. ... It is just the way it is. Halfway through the season, the media asked how could my job be in jeopardy when after 90 games, I've won more games than Bill Parcells. It is just the way the league is today. If you can't accept it or work under those conditions, then don't aspire to be a head coach. It is just the way it is."

BRONSON BACK: Defensive coordinator Jim Mora said free safety Zack Bronson will start Sunday. Bronson has not played since breaking his left foot in Seattle on Oct.14.

Mora said he is not worried that Bronson could be rusty.

"He's practiced for a couple of weeks," Mora said. "There are going to be things he hasn't done, but Zack is the consummate pro."

Bronson said, "It's just nice to be out there out on the field and be able to contribute to get to where we are trying to go."

Strong safety Tony Parrish is so pleased to have Bronson back, he wrote Bronson's number, 31, on his right arm.

"I was just messing around," Parrish said. "He's my hero."

SUTHERLAND WORKOUT: Former 49ers return specialist Vinny Sutherland worked out for the team Wednesday.

Sutherland, a rookie with the 49ers last year, was cut before the start of this season. He played one game for Chicago this season, but was cut by the Bears.

The 49ers' return men are banged up. Jimmy Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury in Dallas on Dec.8. Then kick returner Jamal Robertson suffered a year-ending hamstring injury.

On Monday in St. Louis, Cedrick Wilson suffered a sprained ankle, and another potential return man, cornerback Jason Webster, also has an ankle sprain.

"We're thinking about it," Mariucci said of Sutherland. "We'll decide as we go."

INJURY UPDATE: After two weeks on the sidelines, receiver Terrell Owens practiced Wednesday.

But Webster and right guard Ron Stone, who both have sprained ankles, were non-participants. Mariucci indicated Stone will play, but said Webster remains questionable.

If Stone cannot play against his former team, his place would be taken by Matt Willig. Webster's spot would be taken by rookie Mike Rumph.

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