Is Mooch's job on line in playoffs?

For two men who coached their teams into the NFL playoffs, the job security of Steve Mariucci and Jim Fassel has been under an inordinate amount of scrutiny this season. "Heck, I was considered out of here" earlier in the season, said Fassel, who then lifted his team into the postseason. The same thing may be considered of Mariucci if he doesn't lead the 49ers to victory in Sunday's wild-card game against the Giants.

This is the kind of pressure these two NFL veterans have learned to live with.

"It's just the way the league is today," Fassel said. "If you can't accept it or work under those conditions, then don't aspire to be a head coach. It is just the way it is. It has always been that way."

Which pretty much echoes Mariucci's sentiments.

"It's just how it is," Mariucci said. "I suppose we have similar situations in that we are coaching for organizations who have won Super Bowls and whose fan base loves winning. So the expectations can be similar. I suppose we know what each other goes through." 

Fassel was being written off as a goner by New York newspapers after the Giants fell to 6-6 at the beginning of December. They were saying he had to go. Now his job appears safe after New York won its final four games to reach the playoffs. Fassel, after all, took New York to the Super Bowl just two seasons ago.

But Mariucci's job situation appears a little more tenuous, and it might hinge greatly on what the 49ers do in the postseason.

He has one season remaining on his current contract, and he has not been offered an extension yet by team director John York. After some much-publicized courting of Mariucci by other suitors during San Francisco's surprising playoff run last year, York and Mariucci agreed not to visit contract negotiations until after this season is over. Both sides have steadfastly stuck by that agreement this season.

"I'm glad we haven't spoken yet about it," Mariucci said. "I hope it's a little later. We're trying to keep playing here and winning and that sort of thing. We'll talk about it then."

It obviously would be in Mariucci's best interests if that conversation comes later this year than sooner.


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