Donahue's takes

Donahue's takes

With his imminent summit meetings looming this week with owner John York and coach Dennis Erickson, 49ers general manager Terry Donahue discussed several pertinent subjects Monday.

On the end of this 2-14 season:

"I'm glad the season's over. I'm delighted we've gotten through it because it's obviously been very painful for everyone associated to it, the team, fans, everyone. I do think there's reason for optimism. I've said that and I'm sticking by that."

On why there are reasons for optimism:

"If you look to the team in '05 and the players who will return who didn't play this year - the Rattays, Peterson, Newberry, Carter, the Plummers, the Rumphs - the team's going to be better automatically because those guys are going to be back in the lineup. Two, we're in good position with the upcoming draft. We've got a total of 10, maybe 11, picks. We're going to pick early in rounds. That's going to be a good thing. We should be able to get some impact players and some guys that can come in and really turn our franchise around."

On the team's salary-cap situation:

"Again, the financial picture is getting better and there's hope at the end of the tunnel. This year's cap situation was very, very difficult for everyone. Next year is nowhere near as bad. We're not out into open water or free but it's clearly better than it was this year. There's reason for optimism."

On the quarterback situation:

"The hardest thing we have to do is evaluate Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey. That's the difficulty we had. There were moments both of those guys looked like they could perform and play in the NFL. There were moments when they struggled, which happens to quarterbacks who haven't played a lot. Then you've got to weigh, ‘Was it them? Was it the offensive line? Was it the lack of playmakers down field? What was it?'"

On whether the team needs major changes:

"I didn't say that. You start with the core palyers and those core players are what you build around. We certainly need major changes in terms of impact players. We need to get guys that can get the ball down the field, get guys that can make plays and rush the passer. I think we need major changes, but we have a core we can start with. I don't know if anybody knows for sure, sometimes it's subjective, but there's a prevailing feeling we have a decent foundation to build off of. And that everybody in this organization isn't lousy. We've had guys that have struggled but we still believe in our players. We still believe Kwame Harris will be a good player, Rashaun Woods will be a good player."

On his future with the team:

"I don't think if you're in the NFL you can feel your job is secure. Part of the NFL is the explosiveness of it. I don't know if anybody can feel secure. That's not the nature of the game we're in. I realize the ramifications of being the head coach, general manager or position of leadership during this time with the 49ers. I'm going to sit with John this week and with Dennis this week and whatever is decided is decided. I don't think you can go around worried about it. You know you did your best and continue to move forward and let things happen as they happen. As long as you have peace of mind and know you've done your best, you have a sense of security and a sense of peace. This is not the ideal time to be the head coach or general manager of the team. But that's the way it is."

On what happened to the team this year:

"With the general situation with the team, we had to get lucky and get to a situation where we could be lucky. We weren't lucky at all, particularly with our injury situation. The 49ers fans that watch our team realize the impact that Julian Peterson has. Jeremy Newberry is the toughest offensive lineman on team as well as (the) spirituality of offense. All of a sudden that push you get inside before the ball's launched, you don't get that push. If Newberry is playing, if (Ahmed) Plummer and (Mike) Rumph are covering guys, maybe you cover better. Who knows? We had to get lucky. We didn't. At the end of the day we've got to be successful."

On the bottom line:

"The bottom line is when you're in a position of leadership and responsibility, you've got to be successful. We've not been successful. We've got to find a way to be successful. John (York) certainly wants to do that. I do, and I know Dennis does. How that plays into the future, I don't really know.

On owner John York:

"John is misunderstood in a lot of quarters. Denise and John and Jed and the entire family, they want to win and be good owners in the NFL. They want their team to be successful. They're willing to do what they feel is in the best interest of the team to accomplish that. Everybody makes mistakes. Certainly, I've made mine. I'm sure Dennis feels he's made his. I'm sure ownership feels they've made theirs. The players have made theirs. Everybody in this undertaking is responsible for our situation. the Yorks are going to continue to try to find solutions. They want to be successful. They want this franchise to win a world championship. That's their goal."

On whether he did things right during the 2004 offseason:

"We did absolutely the right thing. If you just take the players we lost … If you look at Kwame Harris and compare him to Derrick Deese, we did the right thing. In fact, if you just grade the film how Derrick Deese played in Tampa and how Kwame did here, (Harris) gave up less sacks, is a younger player and is going to play longer. If you look at Tai Streets, we replaced that production with Curtis Conway. If you look at Garrison Hearst, there wasn't going to be a situation where he was going to continue to be available to play a lot of reps, and that's what happened in Denver. If you look at Ron Stone, he went on IR the fifth or sixth week of the season, he really quit playing the fifth or sixth week … (Kyle) Kosier and (Justin) Smiley played the whole year. They're healthier and younger. There's no question the biggest problem we had is we couldn't replace T.O.'s production. That was an organizational decision for financial reasons and also for personalities. The whole organization was ready to make that break. That's a good decision. I don't think that's a bad decision, even though you can't replace that production. We wanted Jeff Garcia back here. There's no doubt about it. Everybody in this building would have preferred for Jeff to be on this team this year, but not at the expense of going backward on the cap and not being able to get out of our financial difficulties. It was a decision we couldn't make. We did the right thing, absolutely."

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