The Oakland Tribune

49ers will be adding college coaches to their list
February 05, 2003
Patriots' Crennel eliminated from consideration

By Roger Phillips STAFF WRITER

The San Francisco 49ers now will turn to the college ranks as they search for a head coach to replace the fired Steve Mariucci.

In a statement released by the 49ers late Tuesday afternoon, general manager Terry Donahue said three NFL defensive coordinators -- the Niners' Jim Mora, the New York Jets' Ted Cottrell and Chicago's Greg Blache -- remain in the running. New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has been eliminated.

There has been much speculation Donahue was waiting for today's national letter-of-intent signing date to pass before turning his attention to college coaches. Given Tuesday's statement, that appears to have been the case.

"I am very familiar with the college head coaches and expect to turn some of my attention to a limited number of viable candidates in that area, as well," said Donahue, who was UCLA's coach from 1976-95. "The addition of potential candidates from college football along with Greg, Ted and Jim will give us a deep and talented pool from which to choose our head coach."

Rumored college candidates include Oregon's Mike Bellotti, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Ohio State's Jim Tressel, Notre Dame's Tyrone Willingham (formerly of Stanford) and Washington's Rick Neuheisel, a star quarterback for Donahue at UCLA in the 1980s. USC coach Pete Carroll said Monday he would not be interested if the 49ers came calling.

Mariucci found new employment Tuesday when he reportedly agreed to a five-year deal with the Detroit Lions worth $25 million. Mariucci was fired three weeks ago today.

As for Cottrell and Blache, Donahue said in his statement both will travel to the Bay Area for second interviews and to tour the 49ers' facility. Cottrell is scheduled to arrive today.

Of Mora, Cottrell and Blache, Donahue said, "I feel all three have the potential to be excellent head coaches."

Apparently, though, the 49ers aren't quite ready to hand the job to any of them. The deadline that is starting to press on the 49ers is the NFL scouting combine on Feb.18. Presumably, the 49ers would like to have a coach before then.

"This has been a deliberate and lengthy process because not only have we been getting to know the coaches, but we have been talking to many highly respected football people around the league about our candidates," Donahue said. "We have been and will continue to be thorough in our approach because I feel it is the only way to find the best coach for our players, our fans and our organization."

In other Niners news Tuesday, the team allocated the following players to NFL Europe: receiver Hilton Alexander, guard Alonzo Cunningham, guard/center Craig Osika, fullback Matt Stanley and guard/tackle Milford Stephenson.

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