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Garcia faces taking pay cut or being cut

The San Francisco 49ers will decide on Monday whether to release
quarterback Jeff Garcia.

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.