The Oakland Tribune

Walsh behind firing of Mariucci?
January 18, 2003
by Dave Del Grande

YOU DON'T REALLY believe John York was the driving force in the termination of Steve Mariucci, do you?

Here's the way I see it:

Bill Walsh got sick of watching the 49ers flat-out steal from the University of Nebraska offensive playbook and advised York to send Mariucci packing before he installed the wishbone at the next minicamp.

York in turn did the classy thing -- he ordered his second-in-command, Terry Donahue, to call a press conference and place the entire burden of the controversial firing on the boss.

If Donahue looked uncomfortable Wednesday, and Mariucci when he got his say Thursday, it's because both men know exactly what happened. Mariucci failed, yet he deserved to go out twisting in the positive spin of a 57-39 record because the team he leaves behind is in far better shape than the one he inherited six years ago.

And that phone call York placed to Mariucci on Monday night? No different than what thousands of thoroughly disappointed 49ers fans would have done if they'd had the coach's number.

DATELINE: The cashier's window. Want to make a little money off the 49ers' next hire? Make the chump on the adjacent barstool this offer:

He/she gets a choice of any five candidates, and you get the rest. Set the stakes high because you're going to win this one.

Most likely, he/she will choose:

Denny Green. Let's face it: Walsh made the call on Mariucci sometime between the blowout loss to the Eagles (Nov. 25) and the snoozer against the Packers (Dec. 15). If Green were next in line, he wouldn't have been pushing so hard for the Jacksonville job.

Mike Holmgren and Bob Stoops. Two great coaches, but two men very happy where they are. These guys won't even get an interview.

Jim Mora Jr. and Ray Rhodes. When the problem is the offense, why would you hire a defensive specialist?

My prediction: Gary Kubiak.

DATELINE: Strawberry Canyon. In an informal poll of Bay Area football fans, I found that 60 percent believe the 49ers should hire Jeff Tedford.

The other 40 percent were Cal fans.

Speaking of which, if you really want to know what kind of job Mariucci did with the 49ers, ask an Old Blue if he/she would rather have Mooch or Tedford as the Cal coach. Mariucci gets sympathy votes only.

DATELINE: San Diego. Sunday's AFC title game resembles last week's Raiders-Jets game in that you have two defenses that are strong against the run.

Even though I don't expect Steve McNair to crack as Chad Pennington did, in a passing duel once again I have to favor the Raiders, 31-20.

And I'm establishing the Eagles as a 1-point favorite in the Super Bowl if they beat Tampa Bay -- which they will, 19-6.

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