Erickson from the other side

For a different perspective, here are some excerpts from 49ers coach Dennis Erickson's conference call Wednesday with media that cover the New England Patriots:

Q: With regard to your own situation, nothing came of the conversation with Ole Miss, but was the fact that you were willing to talk to somebody during the season, would this suggest that if the right offer came along you might be looking to leave San Francisco?

Erickson: No, not at all. That was just a situation where they called, I visited with them for about an hour and a half, just more about college football than anything and really, as I visited with them I knew that that's not what I wanted to do. No, I want to stay here and finish this thing out, obviously. After I came here there were some changes as far as our cap was concerned and we had to get rid of some players last year, which is obviously disappointing, but that's how it was. So that hurt us a little bit, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel here. I know Dr. York is going to do the things that he needs to here in the next year or two to get this thing where we can be very, very competitive. The reason that I came back into the league was to get an opportunity to be successful and I hope that's what we'll continue to do, so I'm planning on staying here as long as I possibly can, hopefully for a long period of time.

Q: When you say you see light at the end of the tunnel for next year, could you be more specific?

Erickson: When I talk about that, we're going to have more money to spend next year. Not as much as you'd like, but we have some injuries who hopefully will be healthy. Hopefully we'll be able to sit down and get into the free agency a little bit. We have a number of draft picks for next year and then the year after that, cap-wise, we're in really good shape. So, those are things that we are all looking forward to get in the right situation here.

Q: After a season like this, which has been disappointing by any standards, how do you get guys to play in a game like this other than saying, 'Well, the future looks good?'

Erickson: I know. It's hard. You're at one end of the spectrum where you're at. I'm at the other end of the spectrum where I am right now. As far as this game is concerned, I consider it an opportunity to go play the world champions and it's the last game of the season and the bottom line is that most athletes will go in and compete as hard as they can, and that's what we're going to try to do. There're no guarantees. We're playing the best team in professional football right now, but our guys have been pretty competitive right now and playing hard and that's what we plan on doing on Sunday.

Q: Who's going to have the tougher transition next year, Charlie Weis going from pros to college, or Nick Saban, going from college to pros?

Erickson: That's a good question. They're both going to have transitions, believe me. I've done them both. I think Charlie is an outstanding coach, but that coaching job that he's going into might be as hard as there is in college football just because of the fishbowl that you're in. we all know Notre Dame and that's tough. That's a hard job. He'll make that transition and do a good job. And Nick, it's a hard transition. He's been in the NFL, he'll do a good job as far as that part of it's concerned, but every game is a war when you play there. There is nobody on the schedule that you're going to be able to go in and know you're going to beat like you can in college at times. So, that's probably the biggest adjustment. Hopefully, I don't know what their situation is in terms of the cap and all that is concerned, but I'm sure he's checked that out or else he wouldn't have taken the job.

Q: Is the recruiting the big adjustment you make when you go from the pros to college?

Erickson: Yeah, that's part of it, but recruiting is fun and he'll do a good job with that and I really believe that Notre Dame, there are so many things to sell. The tradition and all of those things, football-wise in the university, making that transition at Notre Dame is a little different than going other places.

Q: There's a certain amount of recruiting in the NFL as well. The 49ers were traditionally a franchise that players looked to go to. Is it going to be a tough sell now when you do have free agent money to spend?

Erickson: There's no question that it's different than it was and that's something that we are going to have to talk about. But, that sell is going to be a little bit different than it used to be, there's no question about that. But, the 49ers are still the 49ers and we can sell it, but you're right-free agency is all about that.

Q: When you recruit, what's the key? You're trying to sell your program, but obviously you're talking to 18-year old kids. It's a change from maybe talking to 30-year old, 28-year old NFL players. Do you talk to them differently?

Erickson: Parents. Recruiting is selling the kid, developing a relationship and it has to be ... I think recruiting is more over a period of time. You start recruiting them when they're sophomores and juniors and then you develop a relationship with them and then, even as important as developing a relationship with them is developing a relationship with the parents. The guardians are the people that have a tremendous influence on what they're going to do.

Q: In the course of your college career, did you see things in the recruiting process that turned you off? Some teams don't always play by the rules.

Erickson: I think you don't see that anymore. When I first started 10 years ago or so, I think there was some of that going on, or there was. Now you don't see that. Now, I mean as far as illegal things, now there is a lot of bad-mouth recruiting that goes on, which isn't against the rules, but you'd like to think that it doesn't happen. But, really now it's just about building relationships or selling your university or selling whatever your plusses are.

Q: The other difference, I would imagine, is that even other past implications at the pro level, you can if you find out a guy wasn't what you thought he was, get rid of him. In college, I know the roster is much bigger, but you do sort of have to dance with who brought you, right?

Erickson: Well, I mean really, once you make that commitment, scholarship wise, it's like the NFL in a lot of ways. You have to be able to identify talent and identify guys that can play because you can't make mistakes because they're staying on scholarship all the way through their time there, whether they can play or not. When you identify players, you'd better make sure that you're right a lot of the time and I think what happens a lot of the time in college football and why there is so much parity [is] because of the 85 scholarships. There are a lot of players out there and there are schools out there that don't have things to sell that some of the other schools, national championship type schools, have because that are playing very, very well because they identify players that can play for their program. So, to me it's still a matter of identifying talent, regardless of what level you're at.


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