Sacramento Bee

The Mariucci years
January 16, 2003
Bee Sports Staff

Jan. 16, 1997: After one year as Cal's coach, Steve Mariucci is named 49ers coach one day after two-time Super Bowl champion coach George Seifert is fired.

Aug. 31, 1997: In Mariucci's debut at Tampa Bay, the 49ers lose 13-6 as QB Steve Young and WR Jerry Rice suffer injuries. Mariucci goes on to set an NFL record for consecutive wins by a rookie coach with 11.

Dec. 3, 1997: Owner Eddie DeBartolo, facing possible indictment on federal gambling fraud charges, resigns and turns over control to his sister, Denise DeBartolo York. John York, Denise's husband, later takes title of Director/Owner's Representative.

Jan. 11, 1998: Green Bay defeats the 49ers 23-10 in the NFC championship game at 3Com Park, the farthest Mariucci would advance in the playoffs.

July 22, 1998: Carmen Policy, a member of the 49ers' organization since 1983 and the person who hired Mariucci, steps down as team president. Executive vice president Dwight Clark leaves four months later.

Jan. 3, 1999: Behind a late touchdown pass from Young to Terrell Owens, the 49ers beat the Packers 30-27 in a wild-card game. It's the team's first playoff win over Green Bay after three consecutive postseason losses. Mariucci is awarded a five-year contract extension despite losing to Atlanta the following week.

Sept. 27, 1999: Young suffers what would become a career-ending concussion in a 24-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals in a Monday night game. The team wins its next game, but with a QB combination of Jeff Garcia and Steve Stenstrom, loses 11 of 12 to finish 4-12 -- San Francisco's worst record since 1979 (2-14).

Sept. 26, 2000: Mariucci fines Owens a week's salary of $24,294 and suspends him for one game after the receiver twice ran to midfield to celebrate touchdown receptions at Texas Stadium in a 41-24 win over the Cowboys.

Dec. 17, 2000: Jerry Rice plays his final home game for the 49ers.

Oct. 31, 2001: Owens criticizes Mariucci for not "destroying teams" after the 49ers blow a 28-9 lead over the Chicago Bears and lose 37-31 in overtime. "I think he, his buddy system with all the coaches around the league, I think he tries to spare them sometimes, like he doesn't want to embarrass a team," Owens says. Although Owens and Mariucci refuse to publicly discuss their disagreements, a rift between player and coach is clear.

Dec. 21, 2001: Mariucci denies a Bay Area newspaper report that he might leave after the season because of a growing rift with the front office. The report describes a "source close to Mariucci" as saying the coach felt increasingly isolated from general manager Terry Donahue and consultant Bill Walsh.

Jan. 13, 2002: The 49ers lose 25-15 to Green Bay, marking the team's return to the playoffs after two seasons. With Garcia at quarterback, the team has a regular-season record of 12-4.

Jan. 15, 2002: After Notre Dame shows interest in Mariucci, York makes it clear that his coach isn't going anywhere: "Three years ago, when we took over, the first day I got in charge I re-signed Steve Mariucci to a five-year contract. So he is our coach. He's not anybody else's coach," York says.

Feb. 17, 2002: Mariucci is recruited by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who offer about $4 million a season. But while he waffles, the Bucs make an offer to the Raiders' Jon Gruden, who accepts.

April 2002: Mariucci flies to Atlanta for a three-hour meeting with Owens to help resolve their differences. Owens enters training camp with a fresh attitude; the player and coach have a conflict-free season.

Aug. 9, 2002: York says he won't negotiate an extension for Mariucci until after the season.

Dec. 30, 2002: After the 49ers lose to the St. Louis Rams in the season finale, York meets with Mariucci and his agent, Gary O'Hagan. Mariucci tells York he would like more responsibility -- possibly becoming the vice president of football operations along with his coaching duties.

Jan. 12, 2003: A week after the 49ers had one of their most inspiring victories in years during a wild-card win over the New York Giants, the 49ers are blown out 31-6 by the Bucs in an NFC divisional playoff. Ironically, Mariucci ends his 49ers career the way it started -- with a loss at Tampa Bay and without a touchdown.

Jan. 13, 2003: Mariucci and York talk on the phone. The discussion goes poorly.

Jan. 15, 2003: Donahue says in a news conference that Mariucci has been fired by York because of a difference in philosophy, and that the move has nothing to do with on-field performance.

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