Garcia faces taking pay cut or being cut
Garcia, a three-time Pro Bowler and San Francisco's starter since 1999, is in the midst of a difficult contract re-negotiation with the 49ers, who want to reduce his salary significantly from the $9.9 million he is due to make next season -- or cut ties with him.
"We are going to look at all of our options this weekend," 49ers general manager Terry Donahue said Friday. "We have a wide variety of choices. We told Steve we would notify him Monday afternoon as to what we are going to do."
Garcia's agent, Steve Baker, declined comment when reached by The Associated Press on Friday night. Garcia couldn't be reached for comment.
The team and Baker have been haggling over several issues, including the bonuses and performance clauses in the contract. Neither side has commented on specific issues, but the 49ers intend to make a decision before a $500,000 roster bonus comes due next week.
The 49ers are thought to be planning to release Garcia, which would save $1.7 million against the salary cap. He still will count against the cap for $10.3 million next season, but he would be off the books for 2005 -- fitting into the 49ers' plan to get rid of all the "dead money" they owe to players no longer with the team.
If Garcia is released, it will be a sad, abrupt end to a storybook career for a local kid who got a chance to play for his favorite team while growing up in Gilroy, Calif.
But under the budget-conscious, unsentimental tenure of owner John York, San Francisco is in the early stages of what's certain to be one of the most tumultuous offseasons in team history.
The 49ers released running back Garrison Hearst and offensive tackle Derrick Deese on Thursday, and they're also are expected to part ways with Terrell Owens, their four-time Pro Bowl receiver. Owens is still under contract after failing to void the final three years of his contract last week, but the team is almost certain to trade him.
Garcia set a franchise record in 2000, passing for 4,278 yards and earning his first Pro Bowl berth. He has been a steady producer and a tough-nosed competitor in San Francisco, but his arm strength has been criticized -- even by Owens, his favorite target.
Garcia passed for 2,704 yards and 18 touchdowns while battling various injuries for much of last season. He missed three games while injured -- and his longtime backup, Tim Rattay, looked sharp while going 2-1 and stoking a quarterback controversy.
After a standout collegiate career at San Jose State, Garcia was a star in the Canadian Football League, where he led the Calgary Stampeders to the Grey Cup in 1998.
Rattay, who passed for 856 yards last season, has two seasons left on the three-year, $4.8 million contract extension he signed last fall. Ken Dorsey was the 49ers' third-string quarterback last season, and the team recently re-signed former backup QB Brandon Doman.
The first court hearing on Garcia's January arrest on DUI charges also is scheduled for Monday.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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