Disappearing Donahue

Conspicuously absent on a day of upheaval at 49ers headquarters was ousted general manager Terry Donahue, who did not stick around to speak with the media after his tenure with the organization was terminated.

Earlier in the day, Donahue met with 49ers owner John York and reached a settlement to leave the team. Donahue had signed a four-year contract extension less than four months ago - on Sept. 14, to be exact - and he took a buyout offered by York rather that accept a much less prominent role in the organization.

A lot of the blame for the 49ers problems are being heaped onto Donahue, and there is some merit to that. But York refused to put it all on his deposed GM.

"It's not a question of blame," York said, "and I'm not trying to put blame. But things have just not gone forward the way that we had discussed during the summer, and we are sitting here at 2-14. I think that everyone is disappointed, and I think it's time for us to take a fresh start. I know that (Donahue) worked hard day in and day out. But we have just not gotten the results that are acceptable.

"With Terry, there was a mutual settlement. We did sit down and we agreed to terms and we both agreed to part our separate ways."

Donahue obviously knew what was coming. He had a season-wrap interview session scheduled for Tuesday with a small group of beat reporters that cover the team, but he never appeared during the day and the meeting was put in limbo without anybody really knowing if it actually would take place.

While Dennis Erickson - who also was fired Wednesday by York - came down to the 49ers media trailer to speak briefly with reporters who cover the team regularly, Donahue never appeared to give any parting words.

Instead, while York was giving his 25-minute news conference to announce the shakeup, Donahue released a two-paragraph statement that was slipped onto the desk of reporters while they were attending York's talk.

Here is Donahue's parting statement, in its entirety:

"Dr. York, as owner of this franchise and team, has the right to make any decision regarding his football organization. I am very disappointed that I do not have the opportunity to remain with the 49ers. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind with the improvement in the salary cap situation, the return of a lot of injured players along with a good draft, that we would have experienced a great deal of success in the future.

"I would like to thank Bill Walsh for bringing me into the NFL and the many friends, players, fans and the media for an outstanding six-year experience here in San Francisco. I hope that I will have an opportunity to remain in the NFL in the future."

The statement ended with two words in the same letter-type: "Terry Donahue."


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