Niners still considering what to do with Cortez

The door swung open to the 49ers locker room Monday afternoon, and Jose Cortez still was sitting in front of his locker. And his name still was above that locker. But that's not to say Cortez still will be around as the 49ers kicker for Monday night's NFC showdown with Philadelphia. And it doesn't even say he'll still be their kicker tomorrow. "We haven't made any official decisions yet," Niners coach Steve Mariucci said. "We will continue to talk about that."

By late afternoon, nobody in team management had talked about it with Cortez, who put his job in jeopardy Sunday by missing a 41-yard field goal in overtime that could have given the Niners a victory over San Diego. Instead, the Chargers took advantage of Cortez's miss and drove for the winning field goal in their 20-17 win.

 

"Nobody's said anything," Cortez said. "All I know is I'm still here. The only thing I can think about is to be grateful I'm still here."

 

Cortez has missed four field-goal attempts in San Francisco's last three games, including a 27-yarder on the final play of regulation that forced the Niners to go into overtime on Nov. 3 against the Oakland Raiders, where San Francisco eventually won on a short Cortez field goal.

 

His miss Sunday was the one that hurt the worst. It was the first time a Cortez miss has directly cost the Niners a victory in the two seasons he has been the team's kicker. It also cost the Niners a chance to take over as the top-seeded team in the NFC playoff race.

 

Mariucci said he and general manager Terry Donahue would discuss the situation today, and the coach also indicated the team is considering three options at its shaky kicking position.

 

Bringing in another kicker – even though the Niners have carried fourth-round draft pick Jeff Chandler on the roster the entire season – is one of those options.

 

"There's not many guys available, I do know that," Mariucci said. "We'll discuss all of that. We'll discuss the options: A – continue with Jose; B – consider Jeff Chandler, who we drafted; or C – is there anybody else out there that we think, at this time of year – you know, Monday night, national stage – (could) come in here and be cool as a cucumber and just pop it through there for us. So we'll consider all our options, but we certainly aren't going to make any changes without involving and informing the parties involved. So that's why I'm not going to make any decisions today."

 

Donahue has said before that he would leave decisions such as this to Mariucci, but expect that the general manager – who ultimately has the final say in personnel decisions – will be leaning toward making a change to the rookie he drafted and paid a $330,000 signing bonus. Mariucci seems to be learning toward keeping Cortez – who is popular in the locker room – rather than making a change that could be disruptive to the team this late in the season.

 

"This is a job," Cortez said. "If I don't produce, they're going to find somebody else to do it. You never know. I might not be here tomorrow. We'll see."

 


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