Next stop, Motown

Cleveland (2004) Comp Att Yds TDs 144 252 1,731 10

Gilroy
– Jeff Garcia and Steve Mariucci are a team again. The coach who
brought out the best in the quarterback when both were with the San
Francisco 49ers will have him back on the sidelines again, and very
possibly in the huddle.
When Garcia signed with the Detroit Lions Saturday, it marked
the end of a frustrating stint away from the West Coast offense he
knows best. Now he’s back fighting for a starting spot
– just as he was before going on a run of three Pro Bowl
appearances with the 49ers.
Gilroy – Jeff Garcia and Steve Mariucci are a team again. The coach who brought out the best in the quarterback when both were with the San Francisco 49ers will have him back on the sidelines again, and very possibly in the huddle.

When Garcia signed with the Detroit Lions Saturday, it marked the end of a frustrating stint away from the West Coast offense he knows best. Now he’s back fighting for a starting spot – just as he was before going on a run of three Pro Bowl appearances with the 49ers.

And make no mistake, while the Gilroy native signed on as a backup to Lions starter Joey Harrington, he has every intention of setting off a quarterback controversy in Detroit.

Garcia’s father Bobby Garcia told the Dispatch that one of the main reasons his son signed with the Lions was that the club had made it clear he would have a shot at winning the starting job.

Bobby Garcia said other interested teams – Seattle and Denver most prominently – had been less willing to give him that chance.

“He really liked Denver and he really liked Seattle, but it was like, ‘We have our starter … and it doesn’t make any difference if our guy plays three lousy weeks in a row, he’s our starter.’

“And it’s amazing because it’s like saying, don’t expect to be a first-stringer …

“Of all the teams, Detroit was the one that said, hey, we’ll give you the opportunity to compete for the job.”

The former Gilroy High and Gavilan quarterback told the Lions’ Web site that he’s ready for whatever the team needs from him.

“I will be ready in case anything were to happen,” Garcia told the Web site. “(Joey’s) the guy right now – I’m not challenging that. I will just be ready and prepared to play when that opportunity presents itself.

“The final outcome (should be) that Joey will be a better player … I’ll be a better player, and the team will be better because of it.

Mariucci said Garcia is the same player he coached in San Francisco, notwithstanding the quarterback’s tough year in Cleveland.

“(Garcia) is the same. … He’s not looking to slow down,” Mariucci said. “He’s looking to get better at certain things and improve his game; and you’ve got to appreciate that about a guy.”

The Lions head coach said Garcia’s attitude reminded him of Steve Young’s, the Hall of Fame 49ers quarterback succeeded by Garcia at San Francisco.

“Jeff said, ‘There’s some things I want to get better at,’ Mariucci said. “And Steve would say, ‘How can I get better?’ … ‘What do I need to work on?'”

Long-struggling Detroit adds Garcia to a mix of young players with whom Mariucci hopes to challenge the established teams in the NFC North.

In addition to returners Shaun Rogers, Kevin Jones and Roy Williams, Detroit has recently signed coveted safety Kenoy Kennedy and tight end Marcus Pollard to multiyear deals.

With division rivals getting older, like Green Bay, or losing key players like Minnesota – which let Randy Moss go recently – the Lions could surprise a few people in 2005.

“My intention is to develop Joey (Harrington) into a heckuva quarterback,” Mariucci said. “My other intention is to prepare Garcia for game-time action”

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