Just What the Doctor Ordered

Jan 20, 2005 at 12:00 AM


For reasons I do not entirely understand, my wife took a liking to Steve Mariucci several years ago. From the very outset of my unsuccessful campaign to convert her into a never-miss-a-down 49ers fan, Steve Mariucci pacing the sidelines was always my most convincing reason for her to glance up from her Pottery Barn Home Furnishings Winter edition catalog and watch a play or two.

Having never watched football before, she couldn't understand what was going on. The plays unfolded and the cameras switched around too quickly for her. But she liked seeing Steve Mariucci. She thought he looked nice and wished we could be family friends. His appearances on United Way commercials only broadened his appeal. She was still light years away from understanding the nuances of the game, checking a box score, or recognizing tight ends as something more than half-linemen, half-wide receiver mutants, but she had grown to the point where, all things being equal, she would root for the 49ers.

All the rapport she had built with the 49ers organization vanished into thin air the moment ownership fired Mariucci. I tried telling her that he had undermined his credibility by interviewing with other teams. I informed her that he went on family vacations instead of preparing for the draft. Nothing worked. For her, firing Mariucci was morally reprehensible, and despite not knowing the difference between a screen pass and a Hail Mary, she didn't "like the direction the 49ers were heading."

As far as she was concerned, Erickson might as well have been the grim reaper. People skills: in short supply. Inspiration factor: imagined. Leadership qualities: non-existent. And truthfully, how many of us have been reduced to tears by his, "We're going to tweak this and see where we're at," press conferences? If watching Mariucci was like having a classy dinner followed by a breath-taking performance at the Opera, watching Erickson was like listening to a lecture on microbiology from the professor in The Wonder Years.

It's not that my wife despised Erickson; it's just that he gave her no reason to root for him. Bill Walsh, the West Coast offense, five Super Bowls, and the 49ers heritage were all a wonderful backdrop, but only meaningful if the present regime showed the enthusiasm and savvy to continue the legacy.

Good news. After watching yesterday's press conference, my wife has decided that she likes Mike Nolan - better than Mariucci. She appreciates his confidence when speaking, his light humor, his past ties to the franchise, and his glowing demeanor that leaves no doubt that he will guide this team back to the playoffs. Knowing nothing about Nolan, my wife took away from the press conference that he was a nice guy, a good father, and a great person. She feels like she has been welcomed back into the 49ers community with open arms.

I suspect that the Bay Area has a lot of wives like mine. The true fans will always follow the franchise, but Nolan has the ability to win over those sitting on the fence, giving players, coaches, general managers, owners, and average fans reason to get on board and give 100%. York couldn't have hired a better man.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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