Donahue discusses decision

49ers general manager Terry Donahue discusses subjects surrounding the decision to fire head coach Steve Mariucci on Wednesday

Q: What are the circumstances surrounding Steve Mariucci's departure?


Donahue: I think the reality of the situation is that he was released from his contract, which in effect, is a firing. I think that both Steve and John (York) are wanting to take the high road. Both have a strong affinity for one another. They have worked together for a number of years and have had success. I think it is a very emotional and unpleasant situation for both of them.


Q: What were some of the reasons for the decision?


Donahue: I think Doctor York has a very strong feeling about how he wants the 49ers structured. He's a business man and he wants to have things run with an owner at the top of the organizational structure. With a president. With a general manager.  With a head coach. With a consultant. Each of them having very defined and very clear roles and responsibilities. He feels very strongly, that in his mind, that is how this organization should be structured and how he wants it run. Fundamentally, from a philosophical standpoint, John and Steve have a difference of opinion, in terms of that. I think there are a lot of issues, in terms of in anytime you depart with a coach and make a decision to go a different direction. There is a lot of emotional and personal reasons you do, but philosophically there is just a difference in opinion on how John wanted the organization structured.


Q: How did Mariucci want to expand his role within the organization?


Donahue: When Steve first wanted a contract extension over a year ago, there were discussions, at that time, about Steve's role in the organization. Steve, clearly at that time, wanted to expand his role within the organization. That was in a conversation with Doctor York. In meeting with Steve's representatives, Gary O'Hagan, Gary made it very clear to John York, I was in the meeting, he made it very clear to John York that Steve was interested in becoming Vice President of Football Operations at some juncture. I think philosophically, from a fundamental standpoint and viewpoint, that was in conflict with where the owner wanted the organization to be and how the owner sees the organization flowing.


Q: Can you talk about your relationship with Mariucci over the years?


Donahue: I don't think it was ever important to me to name the head coach.  My job was to come in and work with whoever was the head coach and Steve was a good head coach. Steve Mariucci and I, over the course of my years here, four years, as the Director of Player Personnel and General Manager, Steve Mariucci and I...I can honestly say that I don't believe we ever had a major conflict in that four year span. I don't think we even had any minor conflicts. Steve had access to me. If he had any problems, we were like anybody else. We didn't always view players the same or we didn't always view a situation exactly the same, but if Steve had any major problems with me, he never voiced them. If I had any major problems with Steve, trust me, I would have voiced them and I never did.


Q: Would you describe this as a football decision or a business decision?


Donahue: I got the distinct impression that it was a business philosophy. John has very defined roles for each position within the organization and very direct reporting lines. All I know are the facts and that is all I can talk to you about. As far as my conversations with John, John felt that there were serious philosophical differences in how he wanted the organization to be structured and run and how Steve wanted it.  Steve has obviously refuted that. His position is his position and I respect that. I'm just telling you what John's position is.


Q: How was York's relationship with Mariucci?


Donahue: My own personal viewpoint is that it did not effect Steve's performance. This is not a performance issue. I think this is a situation in which a relationship has eroded over a period of time. I think Steve and John have a relationship, but I think it has been strained over a period of time from last year, when Steve wanted a new contract and some of the things that arose out of that issue. Also, some of the things that arose out of the Tampa Bay issue. Again, going back, I think in the one meeting that we had with Gary O'Hagan, the fact was stated very directly and plainly that Steve would like to have his role increased with the 49ers. I think when you go through all those series of things, eventually that wears on a relationship. I think that is where we are at. I don't think the two people are hostile. I think they are friends. So, I think it is a difficult time for both of them.


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