49ers sold on Erickson's aggressive tendencies

The operative word here is "aggressive." It's what the 49ers want to be to put them over the top. It's also the way Dennis Erickson approaches his football. And on the day he was introduced as the 14th head coach in team history, it was clear Erickson's aggressive tendencies were a key factor in landing him the job.

On the very first question presented Erickson during his introductory news conference Wednesday at the posh Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco, the Niners' new coach made it clear exactly where he is coming from.

It was a general inquisition about offense. Erickson's response eventually evolved into explanation of his assertive approach.

"My style of coaching is very aggressive," Erickson said. "So we might be a little more aggressive with certain things."

Just a little more aggressive, Dennis? Several minutes later, Erickson was asked to specifically describe his offensive philosophy. There went that word again. You know which one.

"I would say it's aggressive," he replied. "We like to get the ball up the football field."

Then what, exactly, is his defensive philosophy?

"Our philosophy defensively is to be aggressive," Erickson said. "Whoever is the defensive coordinator will be somebody that is aggressive, blitzes, zones, creates pressure, doing a number of different things. But the bottom line is just to be aggressive."

And that is the bottom line with the Niners in this hiring, besides the fact that Erickson has decades of head-coaching experience, was a big-time winner in college and also has had the experience of one go-around as a head coach in the NFL already.

When SFI asked Niners general manager Terry Donahue specifically why he hired Erickson over the other candidates he was considering, Donahue responded: "Knowing how aggressively he likes to play offensively as well as defensively. Maybe if there was a factor, that would be it."

Under the leadership of deposed coach Steve Mariucci last season, the Niners often were criticized for being too conservative. Obviously, that criticism didn't just come from the media and outsiders. It also came from within the organization. It even came from players who railed about the team's lack of "killer instinct."

Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia, one of those who brought up the "killer instinct" issue last year, said the aggressive philosophy Erickson brings could be a difference maker for a team on the edge of the NFL elite.

"I think you have to like his standpoint in wanting to have an aggressive offense and defense," Garcia said about his new coach. "He wants to be aggressive all around. When you look at our team and the knocks that were made against this team, aggressiveness was sometimes a question mark. Not to say that we felt that as a team, but that seemed to be the knock outside of this organization. If Dennis can bring that to this team, can bring a finishing attitude to this team, in terms of philosophy and mentality, then I think that is a great thing for this organization."


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