PLAYOFF BOUND 49ers coach Steve Mariucci
Hometown: Iron Mountain, Mich.
College: Northern Michigan. Mariucci quarterbacked the Wildcats to a 13-1 record and the 1975 NCAA Division II championship.
Snow memories: "My last playoff game was against North Dakota State at Fargo and they had eight-foot high snowbanks on the sides of the field because they had to plow it the day before the game. The temperature was below zero, one of those unbelievable snow and cold games. Another one was against Eastern Michigan in Marquette where it was snowing so hard that you couldn't see across the field. Heck, you couldn't even see all of your opponents."
Up next: A wild-card playoff game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. "Hey, I grew up in the cold. It doesn't bother me a bit. To go back to Lambeau, one of the great places traditionally in the NFL, is a thrill against a heck of a team," said Mariucci, a former Green Bay assistant coach.
Wakeup call: With kickoff for Sunday's game at 11:30 a.m. Central Time, the 49ers face an early wake up call. Try 6:30 a.m. Green Bay time. "Which means we get up at 4:30 in the morning our time to get ready for a football game," Mariucci said. "But so what? Just walk outside, get a little breath of fresh air."
Third playoff team: The 49ers are the first 12-4 team to gave to open the playoffs on the road. Mariucci also guided San Francisco into the playoffs in his first two seasons as head coach (1997 and 1998).
Strongest conference: "The NFC is very strong this year. We went 4-0 against the AFC East and three of those teams [New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets] made the playoffs. We're not only in a very competitive division [NFC West] but a strong conference as well."
Pro Bowlers: Guard RayBrown, quarterback Jeff Garcia, wide receiver Terrell Owens, running back Garrison Hearst and defensive tackle Bryant Young have been voted to the Pro Bowl. Garcia threw for 3,538 yards and 32 touchdowns against just 12 interceptions, while Owens caught 93 passes for 1,412 yards and a league-leading 16 TDs in the league's sixth-best passing offense.
Unsatisfied: "Think about what this young team has accomplished already, but there's nobody that's satisfied, nobody that's finished. There's so much more out there to achieve," Mariucci said of his team that has rebounded from 4-12 and 6-10 seasons.
Previous jobs: Mariucci was the Packers quarterbacks coach from 1992-95 and worked with two-time NFL MVP Brett Favre. "It was a joy to work with him. He has all the intangibles--toughness, swagger, leadership skills, the sharp mind require to know this [West Coast] offense. [Then Packers general manager] Ron Wolf had the foresight to trade away a first-round pick to get him from Atlanta where he was a third-stringer. It seemed he came in every Tuesday on his day off to study film and go over scouting reports. He plays hurt and makes the plays necessary to be a great player."
Favre memory: Mariucci once watched Favre drive away from the Packers' practice facility with his head stuck out the window to see where he was going instead of scraping the car's ice-covered windshield. Everyone agrees the Packers quarterback has matured since then.
-- Staff/wire reports