Erickson Talks About His Move

Feb. 11, 2003

Dennis Erickson's comments to the media in front of the Valley Football Center on the afternoon of February 11:

(Was the San Francisco 49ers job one that you couldn't pass up?) 'Well, it happened really quickly. It happened on Friday. I went down and visited with them, then visited with them again yesterday. It was just an opportunity ... we've had some here, and it just ... like you said, it was very difficult to turn down. I guess there's a little piece of me missing from my time in Seattle to have the opportunity to win a world championship. That's basically what it boiled down to. And dealing with Terry Donahue and Bill Walsh and John York was just the right thing.'

(How hard is it to leave Oregon State?) 'Very hard. We spilled a lot of blood here. We got that (gestures toward the Truax Indoor Center) built, we got the program turned around to where we're winning football games - it's in way better shape. I'm just proud of what the coaching staff and the players have done here. They're going to go forward and they're going to get better; that's what it's all about. My goal when I came here four years ago was to take this thing to where it was competitive, to where we had some facilities and that we had an opportunity to win every time that we stepped out on the field, and that's where it is right now. I'm proud of what we've done here. It's always hard to leave the players and the boosters and the Beaver Nation because they've been so good. But I'm at the point in my life right now that this opportunity doesn't come very many times, and I really just had to take advantage of it.'

(Would you have left for any other NFL job?) 'Probably not. In fact, I know I wouldn't have. But when that thing came about, and the tradition ... the 49ers; I grew up with them. We all grew up with them. Meeting John York, and I've known Terry (Donahue) and Bill Walsh, and how much they wanted me to be there at the end was really the biggest thing. Like I said, to have the opportunity to help us all win the world championship.'

(What do you say to the recruits who signed with Oregon State last week like Ryan Gunderson and Andy Darkins?) 'The timing is never right on anything like this. Whether it was a week before signing or two months from now or whenever it was, the timing is never right when you leave. They came to Oregon State because of Oregon State and they'll play in a great program, and I'm sorry it had to go this way, but that's the way it is sometimes. But they're going to be Beavers, and whoever gets this job is going to continue this going, and they're going to be a huge part of it. They (in-state recruits like Gunderson and Darkin) came here because they're from the state of Oregon and they want to be a part of Oregon State, and they'll carry on the tradition that's been built here.'

(Would you like to see offensive coordinator Tim Lappano get the job?) 'I'd like to see somebody on my staff get the job, no question about it.'

(What was the biggest factor in your decision?) 'The organization itself and the opportunity that I felt, with that group, to win the world championship. That's what it's all about in coaching. I've been in this business a long time; I'm 55 years old and I have an opportunity to do that, which doesn't come along very often. I just felt for myself and my family that I had to do it.'

(What will you tell OSU's players when you meet with them?) 'That's going to be between myself and the players, and you can probably ask them when they come out.'

(Was this something you pursued, or did the 49ers pursue you? And being the third or fourth person to interview for the job, do you feel you were the person they wanted all along?) 'I don't know that. They called me; they were the ones that asked to meet with me. I never set up a meeting, I never asked for anything, so I guess you'd say they pursued me. Again, I'm just fortunate to have that opportunity.'

(Was the timing an issue?) 'It was a sensitive issue. But like I said, I was never contacted until Friday, so (letter of intent) signing was over with. A week ago, or four days ago at this time, I had no idea I was going to have the opportunity to be the 49ers' coach - no idea at all. It just happened. The timing, like I said, is never right.'

(Was it an emotional day for you? How did you convince your wife to move again?) 'That was probably the toughest of them all. Yeah, it's an emotional day, because I love Oregon State and I love the program and the players and the people, so it was very hard.'

(Does all this happening so quickly surprise you?) 'Yeah, there's no question about it. It came about pretty fast. I was there Saturday; they called Friday night, and I was there Saturday, then they thought about it and they called me. We met again last night and made a decision today.'

(After your experience with the Seahawks, was the NFL an itch you still had to scratch?) 'To compete for a world championship, I guess, is the itch I had to scratch. That's basically what it boils down to.'

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