A lively week in 49erland

Will Owens' strong comments cause turmoil within the team, or will they easily be brushed aside?

It was a most eventful week at 49er Central in Santa Clara.

A few notes and quotes to keep you updated entering Sunday's home game against the Detroit Lions:

--- First, star receiver Terrell Owens questions his coach's play-calling, strategy and integrity in a whopping trifecta of controversial comments during a lengthy midweek chat with reporters.

--- A day later, Mariucci fired back. In response to Owens suggesting that Mariucci may have pulled back the offense with a large second-half lead last week in Chicago, as to not embarrass Chicago coach Dick Jauron, a close friend of Mariucci's, the coach said, "The statement about the outcome of the game having to do with an association of mine across on the other sidelines, in my 23 years of coaching, that may be the most utterly ridiculous statement that I've ever read and completely void of any deep thought."

--- While spending more than three minutes either directly or indirectly addressing Owens' comments, Mariucci made his position clear: "As far as implementing the (game) plan, evaluating the plan, judging the plan, unless you're there scheming, studying film and tendencies and know what we know as coaches to prepare that plan, then you play the game. Period," he said. "That won't change and that's not any different than anybody. That's how you coach. The guys that are paid to plan it and develop a game plan are responsible for calling it and making it work, teaching it, executing it. And the players come in and learn it and get it done. Players, unless they do come in early, they pack a lunch pail, they roll up their sleeves and they come to work and they learn and execute the game plan. Period."

--- Now on to issues that matter more than words: Jeff Garcia will start on Sunday against the Lions.

--- Garcia practiced Thursday and Friday, and though he is listed as questionable on the injury report with a sprained MCL in his right knee, Garcia said he'll be good to go come Sunday. "I'm planning on playing Sunday, without a doubt," he said. "I'm coming along. It's getting better every single day. I'll be more than ready on Sunday, without a doubt."

--- The same can't be said for cornerback Anthony Parker, who will require surgery on his dislocated shoulder either now or after the season. "He's got two choices," Mariucci said. "He was leaning towards having the surgery now, but I told him that he has to make that decision. It's his decision. It's not my shoulder, it's his shoulder. But I told him to think through it again, see if it's possible that it feels better in a week and in two weeks maybe he's moving around, and then in three weeks he's playing again and maybe then he can contribute a little bit before we're done." -

-- Parker's status leaves the Niners still mum about who will replace him as the third cornerback and in secondary coverage packages. "George (McCullough) is up and ready to play," Mariucci said. "And he will play. But I'm not going to tell you when and where and how we'll use him." Jimmy Williams, a rookie cornerback who was elevated from the practice squad to the 53-man roster last week, will take Parker's place on the active roster. Behind starters Ahmed Plummer and Jason Webster, McCullough, Williams and rookie Rashad Holman are the other cornerbacks besides Parker on the Niners' roster.

--- Rookie kick returner Vinny Sutherland practiced Friday, and it appears that he'll be able to return to the lineup after missing last week's game against the Bears with a groin injury. "I'm trying to get ready for Sunday, there's no doubt about it," Sutherland said.

 --- The Niners can use him. Without Sutherland - who's fourth in the NFC in kickoff returns and also an important part of San Francisco's coverage units - San Francisco's special teams had their worst game of the season against the Bears. In that game, Chicago started its drives, on average, at their own 38-yard line. The 49ers started their drives at the 19. Each team had 12 possessions in the game, meaning the Bears had 228 yards of "hidden yardage" in their favor.

--- Will Owens' strong comments cause turmoil within the team, or will they easily be brushed aside? "The team is not in turmoil whatsoever," Mariucci said. "This is the most hardworking, coachable, energized team that I have been around since I have been here. I love the guys. The camaraderie is excellent. Their attitude is fantastic. I don't worry about that whatsoever."

--- And neither should the Niners, said defensive coordinator Jim Mora. "The thing we got going for us is we've got a head coach that knows how to handle that stuff," Mora said. "He does a great job of handling any type of distractions that there is in the locker room. He's the best there's ever been, he's great at it. So we're lucky."


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