Neuheisel told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The Seattle Times on Wednesday night that he decided to give the real story out of concern for his credibility.
"My knee-jerk reaction was to protect an agreement of confidentially I had with the 49ers," Neuheisel told The Times, "but the life of the story that has followed has raised the question about who I am. It has questioned something more important, my credibility, and that isn't worth it.
"I want to correct the situation and apologize for not being more candid. I will work hard at repairing those relationships I have damaged." Neuheisel, 33-16 in four years at Washington and 66-30 in seven years as a college head coach, would not say whether he was interested in or had been offered the 49ers job, which went to Oregon State head coach Dennis Erickson on Tuesday.
P-I columnist John Levesque overheard Neuheisel on Sunday at the San Francisco airport while the coach was talking by telephone with his parents about the 49ers job.
To Levesque and in interviews Monday with The Times and KJR Radio, as well as in a news release, Neuheisel said he flew to California only to play golf and discuss a business deal in the Napa Valley.
"I thought first about what the 49ers had asked of me," Neuheisel said. "I was trying to protect them, when I should have told the truth."
The truth was that he met with 49ers owner John York, consultant Bill Walsh and general manager Terry Donahue on Sunday at a hotel near the club's headquarters.
"I cut short my vacation to Sun Valley [Idaho] at their request," Neuheisel said. Neuheisel previously was mentioned as a potential candidate for coaching jobs with Notre Dame, UCLA and the Cleveland Browns.
"I don't want people to think that Washington is a steppingstone for me," he said. "I am very fortunate to be the coach here and am very excited about next season. "I'm sorry all this happened."