Coach tells players he's not going to Mississippi

Updated: December 15, 2004, 1:47 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

San Francisco 49ers coach Dennis Erickson informed his players during a Wednesday morning team meeting that he will not leave to become the new head coach at the University of Mississippi.

Two players who were in the meeting told ESPN.com that Erickson addressed his Tuesday interview with Ole Miss officials but then insisted he is no longer a candidate for the post. "He was adamant," said one player, "that the thing with Mississippi is over. And he really didn't talk about his situation here. He just made it clear he's not leaving for that college job."

"It wasn't the right fit either way," Erickson said on a conference call with reporters from the Redskins, who play the 49ers on Saturday. "It wasn't the right fit for me, and it wasn't the right fit for Ole Miss."

Ole Miss AD Pete Boone called 49ers general manager Terry Donahue on Monday night to request the interview. After Donahue and owner John York granted permission, Erickson went to the hotel shortly after finishing work for Saturday's home game.

Erickson is finishing his second frustrating season with the 49ers, who are 9-20 during his tenure. Erickson acknowledged an interest in returning to college football, where he has been a longtime success -- and Mississippi is interested in a coach with Erickson's championship credentials.

Asked if he expected to stay with the 49ers beyond the season, Erickson said: "I do. I believe that we've got a future."

Erickson was contacted by Ole Miss intermediaries last week before Boone's formal interview request.

Erickson has three seasons and $7.5 million remaining on his contract with the 49ers. Erickson, Donahue and York have been frustrated by the Niners' 2-11 performance this season.

Donahue has said he won't fire Erickson, and Erickson has said he won't quit. The 49ers were expected to attempt to fire some of Erickson's assistants in a shakeup that might force the coach to leave.

Erickson is well established as a college coach, winning two national championships in six seasons at Miami. Erickson also built Oregon State into a power with impressive speed, going 31-17 in four years in Corvallis before taking over the 49ers.

He has been unable to win in the NFL, where he has a 40-53 career record. He went 31-33 and didn't make the playoffs in four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks from 1995-98, and his tenure with the 49ers has been disastrous after replacing Steve Mariucci in 2003.

He had little chance to succeed in San Francisco, given the ruthless budget cuts and personnel decisions made by Donahue and York -- but the 49ers' brass also believes its stripped-down roster should have won more than two games at this point.

The 57-year-old Erickson also coached at Idaho, Wyoming and Washington State before going to Miami in 1989. He has a 144-57-1 career record in college.

"I'm not planning on [leaving before the end of the season]," Erickson said. "But, I mean, that could change. My gut feeling is now, no. Our talks are very preliminary. I've never met them, they've never met me. It's the first time we've ever met."

Last week, Boone said he wanted to have a new coach in place by the middle of this week. Khayat and Boone are believed to have interviewed Southern California assistant head coach Ed Orgeron and Miami defensive coordinator Randy Shannon in the past week.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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