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Agent says Garcia is likely gone


Kevin Lynch, Chronicle Staff Writer

Saturday, February 28, 2004



Negotiations between Jeff Garcia and the 49ers are withering, and in all probability the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will enter the free-agent market.


"We structured the contract so Jeff would most likely know his NFL future by next week, either signing a new contract or becoming a free agent," Garcia's agent Steve Baker said Friday.


"While we have and will keep the line of communication open, I believe at the present time Jeff will become a free agent."


General manager Terry Donahue released a statement Friday saying that options were open and that he would tell Baker on Monday if Garcia would be released.


Both sides appear entrenched in their positions. In an interview Wednesday, a conflicted Garcia entertained the notion of leaving.


"What it comes down to is I want what is right for me for once," he said. "I have to look at myself and look at what is going to make me happy in my life. ...That's not so much being selfish. That's being human and being tired of being run over in so many ways."


With the moves of the last few days, it appears the 49ers are rebuilding, far from the feeling co-owner John York left with the team after their 24-17 loss to Seattle in the season finale.


Possibly trying to alleviate the pain of a disappointing season, York told the team he wanted everyone back so the 49ers could make a playoff run in 2004.


But with a pile of dead money clogging the books, the 49ers will undergo dramatic change.


Left tackle Derrick Deese was released, running back Garrison Hearst asked to be waived, and guard Ron Stone rejected a $1 million pay cut. (Stone's impending release saves the team $1.4 million.)


Stone's agent Ralph Cindrich said the 49ers declined to pay Stone's $300, 000 signing bonus, meaning Stone will be released.


On top of that, wide receiver Terrell Owens will likely be traded and unrestricted free agents, wide receiver Tai Streets and cornerback Ahmed Plummer, want to leave.


In all, six starters are probably out the door, pluskey backupdefensive lineman Sean Moran. Still others could follow, with defensive end John Engelberger and cornerback Jason Webster poised to hit free agency.


The Owens situation remains up in the air. Owens and his agent were informed by the league Thursday that he had missed the deadline to file to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. Owens' agent, David Joseph, was preparing an appeal to the NFL Management Council, claiming that the filing date to void contracts had recently been moved forward 10 days -- in Owens' case to Feb. 21.


Owens, meanwhile, told Sporting News Radio he doesn't know if he will demand a trade if forced to remain with San Francisco.


"Right now, I just want to be put in the situation where I am able to succeed as a person and basically take my talent through the roof," he said. "I want to go to a team that has a championship in mind. Right now, I don't really know what direction the organization is going in."


Joseph is expected to file a grievance with the NFL Management Council through the players' union on Tuesday at the earliest. Owens blamed the league and the 49ers for his predicament.


"I can assure you that neither my agent nor myself made a mistake like this," Owens told Sporting News Radio on Friday. "For people to go out and say my agent made a mistake is utterly ridiculous and insane."


The team did make a commitment to bring back linebacker Julian Peterson and running back Kevan Barlow.


If Garcia is released, the 49ers will save $1.7 million in cap room, but get saddled with more than $10 million in dead money, which will vanish next season.


Chronicle news services contributed to this report.


E-mail Kevin Lynch at [email protected].

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