Brown coming back

Ray Brown, one of the most popular 49ers when he played for the team from 1996-2001, will return to San Francisco on Sunday with his new team, the Detroit Lions. Brown, who still lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, talks about several issues surrounding Sunday's game - which also features Steve Mariucci coaching against his former team - and what keeps him going at age 40 in his 18th NFL season.

Q: Have you noticed any differences in Steve Mariucci's demeanor or style of coaching since he has gotten to Detroit?

Brown: Not really. I think he has been pretty precise and enthusiastic in his approach. To me, it seems he is the same old guy. He just happens to be out here in Detroit.

Q: Have you noticed Mooch to be more excited heading into this week's game?

Brown: I don't think that will really hit him until he gets out there or maybe before kickoff. That seems to be in the forefront for us is that we need to try and get a win before the bye week.

Q: What is your evaluation of the Lions in the first four weeks?

Brown: I think we are climbing. Obviously, we took a big step last week, but at the same time, I think it really hit Mooch) hard that we didn't get out of Denver with a win. He's trying to emphasize to this team, which is relatively young, that we need to make the plays that are necessary to win the games. Especially against good football teams. If you go into their place and you are just an inch off, you aren't going to win the ball game. We were very capable and missed out on a great opportunity to win the ball game last week.

Q: Considering you were let go in SF after one of your best years, were you surprised that they let go of Coach Mariucci?

Brown: Well, I don't know if it was a surprise. This business per se, you would think it would be meritocracy and it is not. It has a lot to do with being wanted in a place. That is probably the case. He probably wasn't wanted there and he was wanted here and got a nice offer so he came out here and coached.

Q: Do you guys ever reminisce about what has happened to both of you?

Brown: First of all, I was surprised that he got this job. I thought he would have been locked in out there. We haven't sat down and laughed about it, but it is kind of an irony that we both ended up in Detroit.

Q: Is he depending on the veteran players like he did in SF?

Brown: I think he is trying to establish that. Once again, there are not a whole lot of veteran players here. He's getting to know this football team and see who he can count on. The one thing that I have going for myself is that I have the experience of having worked with him, along with Ty Detmer and a couple of other guys.

Q: How would you describe your experience of playing with Terrell Owens for six years?

Brown: Great. I really loved playing with T.O. I thought he was an exciting player. That is just how he is and how he plays the game. A lot of guys understand when you are a teammate of his. You understand that is T.O. and you kind of just write it off and try to go play football.

Q: What's your opinion of Niners offensive coordinator Greg Knapp?

Brown: I like Knapp. I would consider Knapp a good friend and somebody I could talk to when I was there. He is one of the guys my age. So, I can relate to Knapp. I thought he did a great job. You constantly are going to be evaluated, whether you are winning or losing. I think he is a good coach and he will probably be a head coach eventually.

Q: Is it job of veterans to tell players like T.O. that he is out of line?

Brown: I think teams tend to sort themselves out in some type of manner. I don't know if it is generally the veteran players, but I would think guys like Bryant Young, Derrick Deese, Jeff Garcia and Scott Gragg will be able to have an impact in that locker room. They have some good strong guys in there and it will sort itself out.

Q: Couple of years ago, you thought about retirement. What keeps you going?

Brown: I have an 11-month son who will be a year old. So, I have to shown him that daddy really had a job. I'm playing to let him see that. I'm just enjoying this year. I like being out here. San Jose is still home for me, but this has been a really wonderful experience. I'm getting exposure to the Midwest and a different environment.

Q: Do you think you'll be playing beyond this season?

Brown: I haven't thought about it. I really haven't. I think anytime I start thinking about getting out, I really do believe that it would get in the way of what I'm trying to do this year. Even if I said in my mind that I was going to leave the game after this season, it would get in the way of my preparation and probably distract me personally. So, I really try to stay open-ended with it and try to move forward.

Q: Having to deal with so many young players on your team, do you see a future in coaching?

Brown: I'm not sure, but that is one thing that I definitely try to do this year with players. If I can help guys visualize how to play this game or if I'm an asset in that manner, then by all means I'm going to do that because I know that is the reason why I have been successful. You know, leaning on the veteran players. Also, just taking criticism and comments from different players and try to use that to improve my game.

Q: Does playing with a young team reinvigorate you?

Brown: I think being in a different environment sort of excited me and then the fact that I was wanted here. I feel that I am indebted to going out and trying to play well, compete and try to help this team win.

Q: Do you still keep in contact with 49ers players?

Brown: Yeah, I see a lot of those guys because I am still in the Bay Area. So, that is home during the offseason and I'll see those guys there.

Q: What do Joey Harrington and Charles Rogers bring to the Lions?

Brown: Charles has brought a really exciting threat on the outside and big-time play ability at the receiver spot. Joey is just going to be a great quarterback. Now, we have to be able ,as an offensive line, to give him time to look down field and make plays. Also, block for him in the running game. If we present a running threat, then we become a two-dimensional football team because we have pretty good receivers outside.

Q: How sweet would it be for Mariucci to leave with a win on Sunday?

Brown: I think it would be sweet for this entire football team. Probably more so for him, but that hasn't really come into play. Even as early as Monday, that wasn't even a factor and it has yet to be brought up this week. We just really want to go back there and win. We aren't operating on the illusion that this is going to be an easy victory or easy game because they really have a good football team. They are a couple plays away from being 3-1.

Q: What about a victory for you?

Brown: I would like it. I'm definitely one to come out and win and have some type of bragging rights. But at the same time, I know it is not going to be something that they are going to give to me. All the sentiments go out the window once the whistles are blown.

Niners Digest Top Stories