Mariucci Gets Raw Treatment
So what now for Steve Mariucci and the 49ers?

For starters, they had better share a long session passing the peace pipe, because Mariucci has had just about enough of the 49ers’ ambivalent attitude towards him. It’s one thing go 12-4 without so much as a thumbs-up from the front office. It’s another thing entirely to then be pushed out the door at the slightest mention of interest from another team.

The 49ers are not only unappreciative of Mariucci, they seem to be in a hurry to get him out the door.

As if that wasn’t enough, Mariucci also has to deal with the insult of being a pawn on the negotiating chess table of the Bucs and the Raiders. From what I hear, the Buccaneers were never going to hire Steve Mariucci as their coach. This was a complete scam. The seven-year, $42 million contract was never formally offered to Mariucci. The Glazer brothers, who sound more like a circus act than an NFL executive team, used the offer to force Al Davis into finalizing the deal for John Gruden.

Look at it this way: on Sunday night, the Glazer boys called Davis and told him that they were finalizing a deal with Mariucci despite contradictory reports that they had only discussed the contract with Mariucci and that Mooch was leaning towards staying with the 49ers. They called Davis as 10:00 pm and the deal was done by 2:30 am.

The Glazers knew that A) Gruden was gone after 2002 and wanted to coach in Tampa, B) Al David hates the 49ers and would do anything to thwart them, and C) Davis didn’t want to lose Gruden without getting compensation.

Al Davis knew that if the Bucs landed Mariucci, the 49ers would not only snare four very high draft picks, but that they would also snare Gruden after he left at the end of the 2002 season. That would be a double-insult that Davis would never allow to happen.

When the dust settled, the Bucs had their coach, the Raiders had four high draft picks, and the 49ers were left in disarray. Unless things get patched up in a hurry, I would not be surprised at all if Mariucci asks out of his contract at the end of the 2002 year and moves on.

Big Play Owens, Sure-Handed Stokes
Stats Inc., has recently compiled an interesting list of numbers on the wide receivers from 2001. Stats Inc., records interesting things like dropped passes and big plays. The 49ers were prominent in both categories.

When calculating the fewest drops among wideouts with 25 or more catches, J.J. Stokes finished 4th with 54 catches out of 56 catchable balls. The worst player was Kansas City’s Marvin Minnis, who dropped nine of his 42 catchable passes. The stats also proved what a magical year the Patriots had: both Patriots starting wideouts were in the top ten. Troy Brown caught 101 of 104 catchable passes, and David Patten caught 51 of 53 catchable balls.

In the big play category, Terrell Owens had no peers. Using an equation that factors touchdown passes, big plays (25 yards or more), and average yards after the catch, Terrell Owens was tops in the league with a score of 39.6. Owens was so far ahead of the field that only Indianapolis’ Marvin Harrison had a score over 30 (34.4).

Randy Moss finished third with a score of 27.9.

Owens led the league in touchdowns (with 16) and big plays (with 18). Owens’ score was even higher than Moss’ score in his awesome 2000 campaign, when he scored a 37.9.

Draft Notes
Mel Kiper Jr. (Draft Expert) reported that Syracuse defensive end Dwight Freeney has his weight up to 268 from 245. If the 49ers are targeting a pass rusher in round one, Freeney would be a likely choice. Another end who is targeted to go around the same time is Kentucky’s Dennis Johnson…Although he appeared as a possible first round pick for the 49ers in a few mock drafts, it appears that Arizona State’s tackle Levi Jones did so much to help himself during the Senior Bowl that he will go much higher in the draft…To me, this looks like a draft in which Walsh will trade down. The 49ers are not after one player in particular, and this draft is reportedly very deep in the third through fifth rounds. The 49ers could find a situational pass rusher (Bryan Thomas), a nickel corner (Mike Echols) and still draft a couple offensive linemen if they did so.

Free Agency Notes
While I have always felt that the 49ers need to re-sign Beasley, it appears they are focusing on Newberry and Schulters as their two highest priorities. If they just sign those two, the 49ers would still have enough money to sign two free agents. Those two could be an offensive lineman (perhaps Olin Kruetz if they feel like they can spend a little) and a third defensive tackle. Grady Jackson (Raiders), Jason Fisk (Tennessee), Josh Evans (Tennessee), and Sam Adams (Baltimore) are all possibilities there. If the 49ers could get Newberry, Kruetz, Schulters, and one of the above defensive tackles, they would have done very well for themselves in free agency.