Sunday's 20-10 victory over the Redskins ended with quarterback Tim Rattay kneeling down twice deep in Washington territory and the Niners letting the final two minutes expire off the clock.
Some San Francisco players indicated afterward they would have liked to have gone for the jugular at the end, even though the game was already won, just to make a point to the Redskins, who were throwing deep late in the fourth quarter against San Francisco's third-stringers during Washington's 38-7 win in the American Bowl on Aug. 3 at Osaka, Japan.
Leading by 10 points, the Niners had the ball the final 7:59 of the game. The Redskins used their final timeout before a third-and-5 play with 2:05 remaining, and Kevan Barlow promptly ripped off a seven-yard gain before the two-minute warning stopped the clock again.
"There's a point in the game when it's over," Mariucci said. "When they're out of timeouts when there's two minutes to go, it's over. So then you've got to decide what do you do. Do you play or do you make it over? Given our situation, I just made it over."
The 49ers' situation was this: Almost a third of the team was suffering from a flu virus that swept over the Niners on Saturday before the game, and during the game, the Niners sustained several key injuries, including a possible season-ending knee injury to guard Dave Fiore.
"Our guys wanted to keep playing, and I love that about our guys," Mariucci said. "But I had to take into consideration the state of our health. It was ridiculous how sick our football team was. It was 100 degrees and guys were shaking and freezing on the sideline. It was the darnedest thing I've ever seen.
"Of course, we remember Osaka. But I reminded this team this game is not about Osaka. We all felt the same way about this game. We all wanted to have a heck of an outing. This team was ready to roll. I do know to the man, me included, we wanted to be on top of our game and clicking on all eight cylinders and come out feeling good about every phase of the game. There was such a passion to play well and win convincingly and show production and to have some kind of convincing score to get us back on track. That was the motivation."
Mariucci said the lengthy final drive, along with the Niners mauling the Redskins for 252 yards rushing, was payback enough, considering the circumstances.
"Maybe the score can be better," Mariucci said. "But there's nothing worse to a football team than to get the ball run right down your throat when you have to stop them. To get the ball back for your offense, and they simply can't stop you. There's nothing more humiliating than that. To chew clock up like we did and dominate the line of scrimmage like we did was a huge statement."