Former coach's new club stagnant


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Once Terrell Owens and Jeff Garcia got back in step at the pregame breakfast, not even Steve Mariucci could trip them up.

Owens caught five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown as the San Francisco 49ers spoiled their former coach's homecoming, methodically beating the Detroit Lions 24-17 Sunday.

Question on the Lions: Can Mariucci keep this team motivated to fight all year long?
It's going to be a difficult task to do that. When a team plays several close games and doesn't get a win, it can hurt their morale. Mariucci has to work on showing his players they are building towards something. Playing several close games and not getting a win will be hard for this team to deal with.

Question on the 49ers: Will the 49ers be able to build on this win?
After the turmoil of the past week, it's great to see them pull through and not implode. Garcia and Owens seem to have off-field problems but no problems on the field. This team should be able to build off this victory.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Garcia completed 15 of 27 passes for 192 yards and rushed for
another score, but his biggest play came in the hours before
kickoff. Over breakfast, the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback and
his All-Pro receiver reached a delicate peace in their tumultuous
relationship -- and they celebrated by making several big plays
against Mariucci's Lions.

Garcia barely spoke to Owens all week after the receiver
criticized him, but he was the first to greet Owens for a
celebration after a TD catch in the first quarter.

"Both of us were very uncomfortable with the way it had gotten
and didn't want to see it go on any longer," Garcia said. "I
don't like having any sort of negativity in the locker room. ...
Considering the distractions that took place this week, it was a
difficult week."

It was similarly difficult for Mariucci, who knows plenty about
the 49ers' penchant for high drama. He went 57-39 in six seasons
with the Niners, leading them to the NFC West title and the second
round of the playoffs last season.

Three days after the 49ers lost to Tampa Bay in January,
Mariucci was fired by owner John York. Waves of contradictory
feelings flowed through Mariucci as he faced the team he helped
build into a contender.

"I suppose a little bit of everything -- hard, exciting,
different," Mariucci said. "I tried to minimize it as much as I
could. Needless to say, it was different."

Mariucci paced the sidelines with his usual vigor, but Detroit
(1-4) couldn't move the ball consistently in its fourth straight
loss. By the final minutes, Mariucci was shivering in the cold
winds at Candlestick Park as San Francisco ran out the clock.

The 49ers (2-3) snapped a three-game losing streak with just
enough offense to extend the Lions' road losing streak to 19 games.

"It was a game that meant a lot to the organization because we
needed to come back with a win," York said. "Our need for a win
today far outweighed playing Detroit and Steve Mariucci."

Owens' bitter public fights with Mariucci dampened the 49ers'
success in recent seasons, and the receiver hasn't changed his tune
under new coach Dennis Erickson. Owens has been vocal about his
teammates' shortcomings and his displeasure with his role in the
49ers' offense.

But his five catches Sunday all were important ones, and he
appeared to be getting along with his teammates a week after saying
they had no heart. Owens wouldn't comment after the game, but he
wore the vintage jersey of Michael Irvin, the former Dallas
receiver who was no stranger to controversy.

The 49ers took a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter after
Garcia's 1-yard TD sneak late in the third, but Olandis Gary
quickly scored for Detroit on a 2-yard run. Neither team scored
again, and San Francisco ran out the clock at midfield.

Joey Harrington was 19-of-35 for 200 yards but threw two key
interceptions as the Lions never led despite one of their defense's
most impressive recent outings.

"I like that we showed up and played hard," said Lions guard
Ray Brown, who played six seasons with the 49ers. "I hate that we
didn't do enough to win the ballgame. ... We'll win some football
games, and a couple of them will be on the road."

Mariucci's familiarity with the 49ers was expected to be a big
advantage for the Lions. After scoring on their first three
possessions, the Niners dropped into the offensive funk that has
plagued them for a month -- and the sellout crowd booed them

But San Francisco defensive coordinator Jim Mora knew a few
things about Mariucci's offense, as well, holding the Lions to 128
yards after halftime.

"We've seen that offense in practice for four years, so we knew
a lot of what to expect," Mora said. "He coaches the West Coast
offense in its truest form, and we attacked it that way. We were
able to do some good things."

Ahmed Plummer intercepted Harrington on the opening drive, and
San Francisco scored in six plays. Owens caught a 15-yard pass
across the middle, then got free in the end zone for a 6-yard TD -- and an impromptu dance with the 49ers' mascot.

The Niners also scored on their next two possessions, with
rookie tight end Aaron Walker catching a 14-yard TD pass early in
the second quarter for a 17-0 lead.

The Lions came back with two scores, including Mikhael Ricks'
6-yard TD catch 2:58 before halftime.

Game notes
San Francisco LB Jeff Ulbrich was knocked out of the game
in the second half with a concussion. Afterward, Ulbrich had no
memory of the play on which he was hurt. He's listed as
questionable for next week. ... Garcia's TD pass to Owens was the
100th of his career. ... Lions TE John Owens also had a concussion.


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