Power powwow to produce tough personnel decisions

Steve Mariucci and Terry Donahue got together for a personnel powwow on Thursday, and that meeting between the Niners' power duo will ultimately decide the roster the team takes into the 2002 season. These are the two men running the 49ers now, and they're facing some of the most difficult decisions the franchise has had to make at this time of year in at least four seasons. And both are saying they see eye-to-eye in the process, which will result in the team's final cuts as soon as today.

As general manager, it is ultimately Donahue's job to make the final roster decisions. But he made it clear on Thursday that he wants to give Mariucci the players that he wants to coach.

"The reality of it is, is we're going to give our coaches the players that they want if at all possible," Donahue said. "We can't give them everybody they want, but we're going to have real input from our coaching staff, as to who should make the final cut. If they want player A over player B, we're going to give them A if even I may have an inkling for player B. So it's a cooperative effort."

That hasn't always been the case with the 49ers, when some previous team GMs have made decisions regardless of coaching input. That happens a lot around the NFL, since it's a GM's primary job to provide players for his coaches to coach. If you can't blame coaching in the NFL, you blame the players. And then you blame the GM.

But, obviously, the Niners have a congruent and symbiotic relationship building between their head coach and GM, who are working together for the betterment of the team and for their common goal of getting the Niners back to the top of the NFL.

"Obviously, Terry is the general manager, and he has final say in all personnel decisions," Mariucci said. "He is very good about listening to scouts, and they're part of the evaluation and they do a great job. He is good about listening to our assistant coaches, because they're on top of it. And those are not always open forums. We'll sit in there with scouts and coaches and we'll talk through the personnel, talk through the grades after every game and about their performance."

But then, Mariucci said, "Terry and I will go over in a secluded corner and talk privately, because we need to do that and talk through the current team. We'll get to that. Terry and I will sit down and start chipping away at the 12 we need to release and try to determine what's best."

Chances are, they'll get pretty close to doing exactly that.

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