Bucs Receive Permission to Speak With Mariucci

February 15 - Buccaneer Magazine has learned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been granted permission to speak with San Francisco 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci about filling both the Bucs head coaching and general manager positions.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers asked the San Francisco 49ers for permission to speak with head coach Steve Mariccui about filling the Pewter Pirates head coaching and general manager positions on Friday morning.

After 49ers team officials met with Mariucci, the team granted the Buccaneers permission to speak with San Francisco's head coach. He is expected to meet with the Glazers on Saturday.

On Friday, San Francisco general manager Terry Donahue issued this statement:

"(Thursday) night Joel Glazer called me on the telephone and asked me for permission to speak with Steve Mariucci about the general manager/head coaching position at Tampa Bay. Joel and I had a conversation regarding the position and regarding their interest in Steve. I hung up the phone and I informed (49ers owners) John and Denise York of their interest, it was late at night. I visited with Steve on the telephone. This morning I talked to John York again and I had a meeting with Steve at which time Steve expressed to me, because of the magnitude of the job, because this is an enormous opportunity to be a general manager and a head coach, he wanted to ask our permission, Denise and John's permission through me, to be able to visit with Joel Glazer about that. John and Denise were supportive. I was supportive. We gave Steve permission to go and talk to Tampa Bay because this is an opportunity that is unique. If it had just been for a head coaching position, my own personal belief, is that we would not have granted that position.

"Steve has done an outstanding job here for us. We would like him to stay as our coach. I think that Steve's success is going to cause this kind of reaction and interest from other people, both now and in the future. Steve and I visited about a relatively short time window that he would make his decision about what he is going to do. I don't think it will be over this weekend. I believe it will be more, early part of next week that he will inform us of his decision. Other than that, we will just have to wait and see."

"I've been convinced that I think it's the right thing to do to at least listen and keep an open mind," Mariucci told the San Jose Mercury News. "It's something that has come up sort of unexpectedly.

"Right now I see myself getting home late for dinner and let the chips fall where they may."

Mariucci, 46, has a 47-36 overall record as a coach with San Francisco. The 49ers finished the 2001 season with a 12-4 regular season record, but were eliminated by the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the playoffs.

After the 49ers were dismantled in 2000, the franchise was supposed to take years to rebuild and recover from salary-cap problems. But Mariucci kept the 49ers competitive in 2000 and saw the five-time Super Bowl winning franchise return to the playoffs in the 2001-02 football season.

The general manager position in Tampa Bay appears to be opening up as Rich McKay interviewed for Atlanta's general manager position on Thursday even though he's under contract for one more year with the Buccaneers. That interview came after a two-hour meeting between McKay and the Glazers on Wednesday and could signal his impending departure from the team.

Although Bucs ownership granted Atlanta permission to interview McKay, they will not likely let him out of his contract without receiving compensation from the Falcons.

Speaking of compensation, Mariucci has two years left on his contract with the 49ers, which means the Buccaneers will likely have to compensate San Francisco with draft picks and perhaps cash to buy out the remaining years on Mariucci's contract.

In December, Mariucci's name was linked to the Notre Dame head coaching vacancy after Bob Davie's dismissal. Mariucci squelched any interest in the job when he told reporters at a press conference that he planned on staying with the 49ers.

"I'm staying in San Francisco," Mariucci said. "I am flattered to read my name in the newspaper, like I'm sure all the candidates are for Notre Dame. It's a fantastic job and university. But I'm committed to be the 49ers coach. I was hired to do a job here. We are in the middle of rebuilding this team and I absolutely have no other time to think about anything else other than this football team, working our way back into contention. And that's what I'm committed to do - 100 percent. I am not interested in coaching at any university or any other pro team. I'm interested in getting this football team back to where we need to be. There are no hypothetical questions here at all. I am not going anywhere. I am staying right here. I am committed to getting this team back in the playoffs. End of story."

Mariucci's meeting with the 49ers front office on Friday would seem to contradict that statement from three months ago.

A rift has existed between Mariucci and the 49ers star player, Pro Bowl receiver Terrell Owens, and some time ago there was even a rift between Mariucci and general manager Terry Donahue earlier in the season over who deserved the credit for the 49ers' sudden resurgence. Mariucci also reportedly inquired about receiving a contract extension from Donahue late last season, but was denied. But in late December, Mariucci seemed resolved to clear up those issues and play out his final two seasons in San Francisco.

"I'm happy with (my) contract," Mariucci said. "I've got two more years of it. I love the direction we're headed. I think we've got a fine organization that knows what we're doing. Why would I want to be anywhere else? I would prefer to stay here. I think we've got a good thing going. I enjoy working with, not only this team and the players, but everybody upstairs, too. I really do. We have fun here every day. Are there little fires to put out every now and then like this? I suppose. But you know what? We have a ball, we really do. I enjoy living in the Bay Area. I'm not anxious to be out of here. I'm anxious to stay here and win a Super Bowl. That's what I'm thinking about. That's what I dwell on."

Mariucci's thinking may change after meeting with the Glazers, though.

Mariucci has been dubbed "Mooch" by his players and except for Owens, is viewed as a player's coach. He is bright and witty - a favorite to mic for NFL Films - is also one of the best young offensive minds in the league running a version of the West Coast offense. Mariucci's pro coaching roots began as a disciple of Mike Holmgren where he coached Brett Favre, Mark Brunell and Green Bay's other quarterbacks from 1992-95.

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