The Oakland Tribune

Garcia grousing to quiet doubters
January 05, 2003
Niners QB still looking for first playoff triumph

By Roger Phillips STAFF WRITER

Now comes Jeff Garcia's chance to silence those who have led him to feel that no matter how much he accomplishes, it's never enough to please the masses.

The 49ers quarterback, who is prone to prolonged self-examination in the best of times, was so reflective this week that a New York writer compared him in print to neurotic "Saturday Night Live" icon Stuart Smalley.

Small wonder. Garcia -- who will be seeking the first playoff victory of his career today when the 49ers host the New York Giants -- sounded exceedingly weary this week of the burden of having had a season that was good but not great.

"Finishing 10-6 and being in a playoff game isn't good enough around here and that starts to wear on you a little," Garcia said. "You're out there trying to do your job, helping a team reach a playoff position, yet it's not good enough. I mean, what do we have to do to satisfy everybody?"

There's also the weight of being the hometown boy trying to lift his local team to greatness. Garcia, a Gilroy native who played college football at San Jose State, acknowledged this week that his dream situation isn't perfect.

"It also has its cost in the sense that there are a lot of expectations, more expectations than for the normal player who isn't from this area," Garcia said. "Right now, I just value the time I have to spend at home, to close the doors and have some peace and quiet."

Just as Steve Mariucci has followed Bill Walsh and George Seifert as the 49ers' coach, Garcia plays in the shadow of Joe Montana and Steve Young.

Over the past couple of years, Mariucci periodically has identified various hurdles for Garcia to surmount. He needed to become a leader on the team, he needed to make the Pro Bowl, he needed to get his team into the playoffs.

Those goals were met. Garcia, however, has yet to win a playoff game. His debut a year ago was a 25-15 wild-card loss in Green Bay.

"I'm sure one of Jeff's goals, his personal goals, was to make the Pro Bowl," Mariucci said. "He's done that three times. I'm sure he has a goal to win a Super Bowl or two or three. To do that, you have to win playoff games. So that becomes a goal."

And it probably will only be with postseason success that Garcia will be able to convince the entire football world that, like Smalley, he is good enough.

"I think going out there, having fun and winning a playoff game will be a step in the right direction, so that's what I want to focus on," Garcia said. "I'm just going to go out there and play with high energy and a lot of excitement and let it fly. ... We're not taking simple satisfaction in being a playoff team. We want to be more than a playoff team."

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