SANTA CLARA, Calif. (Jan. 17, 2003) -- The San Francisco 49ers fired three assistant coaches, two days after coach Steve Mariucci was dismissed.
Special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven, linebackers coach Richard Smith and secondary coach Brett Maxie were dropped by the 49ers, who fired Mariucci after a 10-6 regular season and a 31-6 loss to Tampa Bay in the second round of the playoffs.
DeHaven was Buffalo's special teams coach for 13 seasons before spending the last three with the 49ers. San Francisco struggled on special teams this season, replacing kicker Jose Cortez and punter Jason Baker in the middle of the campaign.
Smith and Mariucci are longtime friends and colleagues who coached together at Cal State-Fullerton in the 1980s. Maxie, who played in the NFL for 13 seasons, had been with San Francisco for four years.
In announcing Mariucci's firing, owner John York said his team's performance on the field wasn't an issue -- but Mariucci's loyalty to his largely static staff might have been one of several problems.
"I think some of the things, with regards to the assessment of the assistant coaches (were problems)," York said. "But not the players, and not the direction of the offense or defense."
Defensive coordinator Jim Mora and quarterbacks coach Ted Tollner, both considered outside candidates for Mariucci's job, still are under contract to San Francisco.
But offensive coordinator Greg Knapp is among seven of Mariucci's assistants whose contracts expire this month. Running backs coach Tom Rathman, tight ends coach Tom Batta, receivers coach George Stewart and defensive line coach Dwaine Board will soon be free agents.
DeHaven and Smith both had contracts that expired this month, while Maxie was under contract for next season.
General manager Terry Donahue has begun to compile the list of candidates from which York will select his next coach, but the process has no timetable. The San Jose Mercury News reported the 49ers called Seattle coach Mike Holmgren's agent to inquire about his availability but were told Holmgren, a former offensive assistant under Bill Walsh, won't be leaving Seattle.
Donahue didn't return a phone call seeking comment.