49ers look to fix leaky ship
Dennis Erickson hopes team will pony up for added talent
For Dennis Erickson and the San Francisco 49ers, the 2004 NFL season was one to forget.
Erickson's 35-year coaching career has included two national collegiate championships at Miami, a Fiesta Bowl title and an 11-1 season at Oregon State, and enough successes in four years with the Seattle Seahawks to fuel another NFL try with San Francisco.
This season, though, has been nothing but a nightmare for Erickson, whose 49ers finished a league-worst 2-14 in his second year as coach.
'I have never been around anything like this,' Erickson said after the 49ers' 21-7 loss to New England. 'The bottom line is, when you're 2-14, it is miserable.'
Erickson, who has three years left on his contract, is to meet this week with team owner John York and General Manager Terry Donahue, but the former Beaver coach said he will 'definitely' be back at the 49er helm next season.
'We're going to get together and talk about what we have to do and get this thing going in the right direction,' Erickson said.
When Erickson left Corvallis for the San Francisco job after the 2002 season, things were much different in the 49ers organization. The club's salary-cap situation was getting bad fast, though, and after a 7-9 first season under Erickson, quarterback Jeff Garcia, receiver Terrell Owens and several other veterans were jettisoned as cost-cutting measures.
'I didn't realize how bad the cap situation was,' Erickson said. 'I don't think (York and Donahue) knew, for whatever reason. We had Jeff and T.O. and some pretty good talent. It changed on us pretty darn quick.'
He interviewed with Mississippi representatives, 'but it was nothing serious,' Erickson said.
'I want to be (with San Francisco), but I want a chance to win,' Erickson said. 'We have to spend some money, and (York) will. We're still a long ways away, and it's going to be another year before we're in better shape cap-wise. But we'll be able to make some progress next season, I promise you that.'
Former Duck, Beaver
Erickson had a pair of promising rookies with the 49ers this season in ex-Beaver linebacker Richard Seigler and former Duck safety Keith Lewis. Both players served on all the special teams and as reserves on defense. Seigler had seven tackles in seven games Ñ he missed three games with a foot injury Ñ and Lewis had nine tackles, a blocked punt and a forced fumble while playing in all 16 games.
'Rich is playing behind some veteran linebackers, but he's going to play at some point, no question about that,' Erickson said. 'He's physical and has an ability to get to the ball. He just needs experience and to work on flexibility, getting stronger and those kind of things.
'Keith has been one of our better special-teams players this season. He has a good nose for the ball and is going to be a good NFL safety at some point.'
The Oregon connection
End-of-regular season reports on the other NFL players with Oregon and Vancouver, Wash., ties:
James Allen: Third-year linebacker from OSU had 47 tackles and two forced fumbles while starting nine of 16 games for New Orleans.
Brad Badger: Eighth-year offensive guard from Corvallis and Stanford started 12 games in third season with Oakland.
Nick Barnett: Third-year linebacker from OSU had team-high 121 tackles, three sacks and one interception and one fumble recovery while starting 16 games for Green Bay. Had 14 tackles and a sack in 16-13 win over Detroit on Dec. 12.
Josh Bidwell: Fifth-year punter from Oregon averaged 42.4 yards in his first year with Tampa Bay.
Drew Bledsoe: The Buffalo quarterback, who makes his offseason home in Beaverton, completed 256 of 450 passes for 2,932 yards, 20 TDs and 16 interceptions in his 12th year.
Jose Cortez: Fifth-year kicker from OSU served as kickoff man in Minnesota's final eight regular-season games.
Reuben Droughns: Fourth-year tailback from Oregon carried 275 times for 1,240 yards and six TDs for Denver. Also caught 32 passes for 241 yards and two TDs.
Dwan Edwards: Rookie defensive tackle from OSU made one tackle in three games for Baltimore.
Tim Euhus: Rookie tight end from OSU caught 11 passes for 98 yards and two TDs in 13 games, including five starts, for Buffalo. Missed last three games with knee injury.
A.J. Feeley: Third-year QB from Oregon started eight games and played in 11 in his first year with Miami, completing 191 of 356 passes for 1,893 yards and 11 TDs with 15 interceptions.
Scott Gragg: Offensive tackle from Silverton and Montana, in his 10th year, started all 16 games for San Francisco.
DeLawrence Grant: Fourth-year linebacker from OSU had 20 tackles and two sacks and started in eight games for Oakland. Missed eight games with knee injury.
Joey Harrington: Third-year QB from Oregon completed 274 of 489 passes for 3,047 yards and 19 TDs with 12 interceptions for Detroit.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh: Fourth-year receiver from OSU caught 73 passes for 978 yards and four TDs for Cincinnati. Also ran six times for 51 yards.
Keenan Howry: Second-year receiver from Oregon caught one pass for three yards in three games for Minnesota. Also had two kickoff returns for 45 yards and three punt returns for 33 yards.
Steven Jackson: Rookie tailback from OSU carried 134 times for 673 yards Ñ including two 100-yard games Ñ and four TDs in 14 games for St. Louis, including three starts. Also had 19 catches for 189 yards.
Chad Johnson: Fourth-year receiver from OSU had 95 catches for 1,274 yards and nine TDs for Cincinnati, and made Pro Bowl for second straight season. Also carried four times for 39 yards.
Rian Lindell: Fifth-year kicker from Vancouver's Mountain View High and Washington State was 24 of 28 on field-goal attempts with a long of 43 yards, and was 45 of 45 on extra points for Buffalo.
Ryan Longwell: Eighth-year kicker from Bend and California was 24 of 28 on field-goal attempts with a long of 53 yards, and was 48 of 48 on extra points for Green Bay.
Wesly Mallard: Third-year linebacker from Oregon had four tackles in four games for New York Giants.
Quintin Mikell: Second-year safety from Willamette High and Boise State had 24 tackles, one interception and a forced fumble in 14 games for Philadelphia.
Maurice Morris: Third-year tailback from UO carried 30 times for 126 yards, caught nine passes for 53 yards, returned 48 kickoffs for 994 yards and returned 15 punts for 75 yards for Seattle.
Igor Olshansky: Rookie defensive end from Oregon had 39 tackles and a sack and started all 16 games for San Diego.
Samie Parker: Rookie receiver from Oregon caught nine passes for 137 yards and a TD in four games for Kansas City.
Justin Peelle: Third-year tight end from Oregon caught 10 passes for 84 yards and two TDs in 16 games, including three starts, for San Diego.
Troy Polamalu: Second-year safety from Winston High and Southern Cal had 95 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and five interceptions for 58 yards and a TD as starter for Pittsburgh. Made Pro Bowl for the first time.
Terrell Roberts: Second-year cornerback from OSU had 10 tackles in 10 games, including one start, for Cincinnati.
Junior Siavii: Rookie defensive tackle from Oregon had nine tackles in 11 games for Kansas City.
Ken Simonton: Second-year tailback from OSU was on practice squad for final six games for San Francisco.
Peter Sirmon: Fifth-year linebacker from Oregon missed entire season after knee surgery for Tennessee.
Onterrio Smith: Second-year tailback from Oregon carried 115 times for 544 yards and two TDs in 11 games, including six starts, for Minnesota. Also caught 36 passes for 394 yards and two TDs.
Reggie Tongue: Ninth-year safety from OSU had 71 tackles, one interception for 23 yards and one forced fumble in 16 starts for the New York Jets.
Dennis Weathersby: Second-year cornerback from OSU missed entire season with head injury for Cincinnati.
Jed Weaver: Sixth-year tight end from Oregon caught seven passes for 93 yards in 10 games, including one start, for New England.
Kailee Wong: Seventh-year linebacker from North Eugene and Stanford had 70 tackles, 5 1/2 sacks, a forced fumble and three interceptions while starting 16 games for Houston.
George Wrighster: Second-year tight end from Oregon caught 10 passes for 69 yards and a TD while playing four games, including three starts, for Jacksonville. Missed last 12 games with back injury.