Ex-agent made Mooch look bad

Don Yee played a significant role in getting Steve Mariucci in hot water - OK, let's just say lukewarm water - with the 49ers last season. So whether Mooch is doing a little damage control or simply making the most sagacious move for his career, it comes as no surprise that the Niners' head coach has fired his agent.

Yee had represented Mariucci in negotiations for three contracts, and he negotiated the five-year deal that currently pays Mariucci $2.2 million annually. Mariucci now is in the fourth year of that deal.

But late last season - with the Niners in the midst of a surprising run to the playoffs - Yee apparently was the source of several published reports that suggested Mariucci felt unappreciated, a tactic that ostensibly put heat on the Niners for a new contract that would undoubtedly feature a significant pay raise for Mariucci. With Notre Dame ardently pursuing the popular Niners coach with an attractive - and lucrative - offer, Yee figured his client had some leverage. So he floated some information that Niners' director/owner's representative John York - the man who gave Mariucci his current deal - did not take well.

This put Mariucci in the middle of a mild controversy just as his team was maturing into a contender just one year after a 6-10 season. Mariucci denied that he was seeking a new deal, and stressed that he loved being the Niners' coach and working for York. But the incident added a little tarnish to Mooch's image.

Mariucci did not give this episode as a reason for he and Yee parting ways. He didn't have to.

"Don's a friend of mine and Don has represented me for a while," Mariucci said Thursday at the Niners' three-day minicamp. "And we had a lengthy discussion awhile back and without getting into details - and I'm not going to give you any reasons or any details of our conversation, it was a personal and private conversation - we just agreed that it would be best that as we head into the future, that I change my representation. It's as simple as that. It's a business decision. It was mutually agreed on. We remain good friends. So that's that."

But the fact Yee made Mariucci look bad no doubt has something to do with it. At his post-season news conference in January, when Mariucci was asked about a perception that existed that he felt unappreciated, Mariucci said, "You didn't get that from me. ... Some of you guys know Don. And sometimes he makes himself available to you. I know lately he hasn't. Because I asked him to zip it."

Now Mariucci has zipped Yee for good.

And it's likely the right thing for the coach. This is a critical season for Mariucci, as far as his future with the Niners is concerned, and if he negotiates a new contract with them, it almost certainly will happen during or at the conclusion of this season. Considering the rumbles caused by Yee last year, it's probably best for Mariucci he enters this crucial period of his career with fresh representation.

"I'm not in a rush," said Mariucci, who has not hired a new agent. "I don't have anything pending right now. There's no need to be worrying about that at this point. We'll just see how it goes."

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