The Oakland Tribune

Mariucci intends to stay
January 14, 2003
49ers coach has meeting with owner soon to decide his future


SANTA CLARA -- For a guy with one foot supposedly out the door, Steve Mariucci sure was busy Monday morning making certain his house was in order.

A series of meetings at the San Francisco 49ers team headquarters started at 7:30 a.m. By the time Mariucci changed into a suit and tie to meet with the media at 12:30 p.m., he had met with his team to go over plans for the off-season with an eye on taking the next step up the NFL hierarchy. He congratulated the team on a job well done, on winning the division and advancing to the second round of the playoffs.

"I told them where we are as a football team," Mariucci said. "Given our health status, the two best teams are playing for the NFC championship. We're not there yet, but we're getting closer."

He also met with his coaching staff to give them an off-season plan. Eight of Mari- ucci's assistants have contracts that expired at the conclusion of the season. Understandably, they were "a little on edge," in Mariucci's words, to know what his status is.

"I want to be in San Francisco next year," Mariucci said. "I don't think I'd be laying out plans for the off-season conditioning program, the minicamps and for the coaches unless I did."

Mariucci has one year left on his contract. He chose his words carefully Monday when speaking of his coaching future.

He would like to be back, "If having us long-term is the right thing for the organization."

He plans to meet with owner John York soon to discuss his future, "but there's no rush. It has to be a time that's right for all parties."

After overseeing a rebuilding job that has brought the 49ers from near the bottom of the NFL to near the top, Mariucci sounded in no hurry to leave.

"We're only $8 million over the cap," Mariucci said. "That's the best number I've heard since I've been here. We've been fighting back. We've gone through turbulent years. Now we're kind of climbing our way out of it."

He indicated he would even take less money than might be offered by another organization to stay.

"We have a good nucleus," Mariucci said. "I love these guys. The personnel department has done a heck of a job bringing in guys we like to coach. In so many ways we're headed in the right direction."

There's no doubt he's well-liked by the vast majority of his team.

"When we look at Mooch we don't look at him as a coach," fullback Fred Beasley said. "Most of us look at him as a father figure. He'll do more for you off the field than on. There shouldn't be any question about his future. He's gotten us back to the level the 49ers are supposed to be at."

"He's real consistent and has the respect of all the players," linebacker Derek Smith said.

"All the guys love him as a coach," cornerback Ahmed Plummer said. "We've won with him and look forward to many more years with him."

Plummer had an MRI done Monday morning on the shoulder separation he suffered in the first quarter of the 49ers' 31-6 loss to Tampa Bay. The decision was made to rest and rehab it for four weeks before deciding whether or not to have surgery.

A similar course of treatment is planned for cornerback Jason Webster, who will rest his injured ankle for two weeks before a decision is made on surgery.

Safety Tony Parrish will undergo surgery on his thumb.

Defensive end John Engelberger will have his ankle scoped.

Defensive tackle Bryant Young will have both his ankle and shoulder examined.

Center Jeremy Newberry played with a broken hand all season. "He likes it broken," Mariucci joked.

Rookie guard Eric Heitmann also played with a broken hand most of the season.

"He has a screw in there," Mariucci said. "He's going to need a plate."

Tackle Derrick Deese (ankle) and guard Ron Stone (elbow) both had to come out of the game Sunday, as did safety Zack Bronson (foot).

It's a battered and bruised team that needs time to heal.

"I want to win the Super Bowl," linebacker Julian Peterson said. "My ultimate goal is to get that ring on my finger. We just need to stay healthy, that's the biggest thing."

"We know we're a better team than we showed (Sunday)," Beasley said. "The personnel is already there. It's just about getting the job done mentally."

Tell us what you think on the new 49ers Clubhouse message board.