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49ERS Mariucci says team needs more snaps for offense to score



Published: Wed, September 18, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



San Francisco had just four possessions in the second half of Sunday's loss to Denver.

VINDICATOR STAFF REPORT

San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Mariucci knows the solution for his team's struggling offense: more snaps.

In Sunday's 24-14 loss to the Denver Broncos, the 49ers (1-1) had only four possessions in the second half.

"The first series ended with a fumble and that was followed by a three-and-out," Mariucci said Tuesday. "The next one was a 10-play drive that ended with an interception in the end zone. We scored a touchdown on the last one.

"In our first two games, we've only taken 51 and 58 snaps and consequently we've not had a lot of scoring opportunities," said Mariucci of the offense rated No. 27 after two weeks of action. "We'd like to be better at both the run and pass.

"We haven't been bad on third downs -- I think we're in the league's top 10, but we need to sustain more drives."

With Pro Bowl players like Jeff Garcia, Garrison Hearst and Terrell Owens, the 49ers' sputtering offense is one of the NFL's early season surprises.

Redskins up next

Next for the Niners are Steve Spurrier's Fun 'N' Gun Washington Redskins, who were throttled by the Philadelphia Eagles, 37-7, Monday.

"[Eagles quarterback] Donovan McNabb played a fabulous game," Mariucci said of what he observed from the ABC telecast. "He made so many good decisions and improvised when necessary -- he looked like a Pro Bowler."

Mariucci said the Eagles rattled Redskins quarterback Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel "with a lot of pressure from the four-man rush and later the blitz."

Mariucci declined to go into specifics since the films breaking down Monday's game weren't due to arrive in Santa Clara, Calif., until Tuesday afternoon.

The Niners defense will need to step up their performance against the Redskins because free safety Zack Bronson is unlikely to play because of a shoulder injury sustained Sunday.

"Zack plays center field for us," Mariucci said. "He's our most experienced defensive back.

"He's been starting for several years now and keep us cool and calm back there," Mariucci said of the sixth-year player from McNeese State. "He's a ball hawk and we'll miss him."

Mariucci said the Niners, who are owned by John and Denise DeBartolo York of Canfield, waived defensive tackle Garrett Johnson Monday to make room for defensive back Jason Moore, who was with the team in training camp.

"He played in the World League [NFL Europe] this spring, so he's football-ready," Mariucci said.

If Bronson is out, Ronnie Heard will start and Moore will be available as a backup.

Must contain Arrington

Mariucci said containing Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington will be crucial if the offense is to get rolling.

"He's a great player," Mariucci said of the third-year player from Penn State. "He's big, strong, athletic and versatile. He has a very intimidating presence."

After Sunday's game, the 49ers will have the following weekend off before playing their top division rivals, the St. Louis Rams, on Oct. 6 in San Francisco.

In normal years, Mariucci said he would prefer if the open weekend came more in the middle of the season.

"But after five preseason games and three to start the season, this isn't a bad time for the break," Mariucci said.

"We won't spend two weeks preparing for the Rams," said Mariucci, saying that after three days of practice next week, the players will be allowed to go where they want until that Sunday night.

"It's good for them to get away for a few days," Mariucci said.

As for the coaches, Mariucci said they'll take the weekend off but watch the Rams-Dallas Cowboys game on television.

"Then it will be back to work for everyone on that Monday morning to prepare for the Rams," Mariucci said.




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