In the wake of the week

News and views as the 49ers hit the middle of March still waiting for some kind of definitive decision on the Terrell Owens saga.

News: Owens' grievance hearing before a special arbiter moved from Saturday to Monday.

Views: Can this thing be dragged out any further? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. It wasn't necessarily a bad move for Stephen Burbank of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, who's in charge of ruling on the special-master case brought by the NFL Players Association on Owens' behalf, to delay the proceedings a couple of days so that lawyers representing both sides could appear in person instead of making their arguments on a conference call, as was originally planned. But it shouldn't make any difference, ultimately, in Burbank's decision or the outcome of the case. The facts of the matter remain irrefutable, and it would be a huge upset if Burbank doesn't rule in favor of the NFL, thus upholding Owens' trade to Baltimore and preserving the deal that sent a second-round draft pick from the Ravens to San Francisco for the volatile receiver. Owens can continue to live in his own little world if the ruling goes against him as expected, and he can continue to trash the Niners and decline to work for the Ravens. But if the trade stands, Baltimore will own Owens' rights, and if he were to fail to report to any mandatory team activities, such as a minicamp or training camp, Owens would be subject to reimbursing $3 million in paid bonus money to the Ravens for breach of contract, since they now own the deal Owens made with the Niners in 2001. And that kind of dough might be tough to come by for a receiver who's taking the season off in the prime of his career.

News: Jeff Garcia signs with Cleveland Browns.

Views: Garcia got a sweet deal with the Browns, but those who see any irony in former 49ers president Carmen Policy inking the former 49ers quarterback are missing the underlying point of what this deal could mean to the Niners. Policy and Garcia now are part of the team's history, but the veteran quarterback who might suddenly become available because of the deal should have the Niners seriously considering their present situation at the position. The Browns will probably cut Tim Couch, their erstwhile starter before Garcia arrived on the scene, because there's not a lot of interest around the league in trading for Couch's contract. But the former No. 1 overall draft pick still has the potential to be a quality NFL starter, and his ability in the short and intermediate passing game would make him a nice fit for the Niners. Sure, it's unlikely to happen because the Niners are cutting dollars these days instead of handing them out, but bringing in a young veteran such as Couch - who's only 26 - would be nice competition for Tim Rattay, not to mention a proven veteran to complement him and maybe push to be the starter should Rattay not handle his new role as well as the team hopes he does. In any event, the Niners really need to think about having some kind of established veteran presence on the roster at QB when training camp rolls around, whether its a young veteran trying to find his niche with a new team like Couch or a journeyman who still has something left to offer.

News: Niners re-sign kicker Todd Peterson.

Views: This was the right thing to do, especially since Peterson reportedly was being wooed by Jacksonville. This standup, good-guy veteran has made it known from the start that he wanted to remain a 49er and kick for Dennis Erickson. Peterson's leg strength isn't what it once was and it's true his NFL prime might be behind him, but he's still a quality veteran leg who the Niners can count on to make routine field goals and, perhaps most importantly, instill confidence in his teammates that they have a kicker they can count on at the end of close games. Just think what that would have meant to the Niners last year before Peterson showed up - and before Jeff Chandler and Owen Pochman sabotaged at least three winnable games. The Niners need an established veteran kicker from the get-go this year and, if you look around, there aren't currently many - or any - of those waiting in limbo for jobs who are appreciably better than Peterson, who already has shown he's a good fit in the Niners' locker room and a reliable toe on the field.

News: Tai Streets signs one-year deal with Detroit.

Views: Streets signing with a new team is news that should have happened last year, before an NFL ruling denied Streets unrestricted free agency and ultimately landed him back with the Niners. A lot of good that did the Niners, who certainly aren't disappointed to see him leave this time after he had only 47 receptions as the No. 2 receiver in 2003 and wasn't even the team's second-best receiver by the end of the season. Streets was a solid possession receiver who made some contributions to the team's rise over the past few years, but the team is better off without him. That might seem like odd reasoning to some since Streets' departure now means the Niners will venture into a new season without either of their two starting receivers from 2003. But he won't be missed, as long as the Niners get a surefire receiving talent early in the draft and bring in an established veteran who can contribute in a Streets-like role this year. That veteran might not be T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the restricted free agent from Cincinnati whom the Niners had in for a look at team headquarters this week (and whom played for Erickson at Oregon State), but the Niners are on the right track in looking at those kind of young veterans, who would come relatively cheaply and add some still developing young talent that could turn into quality quickly and add immediate help to the team's young receiving corps.

News: Travis Kirschke signs four-year deal with Pittsburgh.

Views: For those counting, that's now eight starters - count 'em, EIGHT - from 2003 who no longer are with the Niners just 10 weeks into the new year. However, Kirschke - as much as he was a pleasant surprise for the team last season - probably will be the one who will be missed the least. With Anthony Adams ready to step into Kirschke's starting spot at defensive tackle, the Niners will be better at the position, and not so susceptible to getting blown off the ball by strong running teams who could use their brawn inside to simply overpower the quick but relatively light Kirschke.

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