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49ers Advised to Go to a Backup Plan

November 13, 1998

The conclusion is obvious: Bench Steve Young. In beating the Panthers with Ty Detmer at quarterback, the 49ers ran their record to 26-10-1 since 1981 in games in which a backup quarterback has started.

49er Coach Steve Mariucci is 12-0 against the NFC West as he goes into Atlanta for a semi-serious test.

So how do the Falcons, losers of 11 of their last 13 to the 49ers, beat San Francisco? Refuse to let their plane land or throw the ball deep. The 49ers continue to flop around at cornerback, and will be starting rookie R.W. McQuarters because of Antonio Langham's early ineffectiveness and then injury and Marquez Pope's sore back.

Kerry Collins, the Panthers' once- upon-a-time franchise quarterback, starts for New Orleans this week, while Steve Beuerlein, 33, settles in now as Carolina's hope for better days ahead with a three-year $9-million contract extension. "If I could have painted the perfect picture, this is exactly the way I would have done it," Beuerlein said. "My wife and I couldn't be happier. This is exactly where we wanted to be."

Nine million dollars will do that.

Carolina is 1-4 since Beuerlein took over for Collins. Beuerlein has started 58 games during his 12-year NFL career, compiling a 27-31 record, and is 5-7 with the Panthers. Nine million bucks for that?

Carolina, 1-8, also announced it will surrender the rest of the way, playing running back Tshimanga Biakabutuka in the backfield for the first time this season.

CENTRAL / Maybe the Whole World's Gone Mad

Detroit Coach Bobby Ross is angry. Well, he's always angry, but he's really angry this time. His team stinks, and he doesn't want anyone to think he has anything to do with that.

After the Lions were flagged four times on their final drive while losing to Philadelphia, Ross said, "You think I coach that stuff? I don't coach that stuff. I get all the damn heat from every one of you all, hammering my tail. They've got to step up and make some plays. This game still comes down to players. It's embarrassing to me. . . . "

For remarks like that, there's only one thing to do: Hammer his tail.

Ross tore into his team after the game, and wide receiver Johnnie Morton said later, "I'm glad he didn't have any weapons on him. None of us would be [living]. He was beyond mad. I don't think I've done anything in my life that bad when my dad got that mad. . . . "

The Bears lost running back Curtis Enis for the season. He lost much more. Enis, a contract holdout in training camp, rejected the team's offer, which included a $7.2-million signing bonus, eventually settling for $3.6 million up front. Charles Woodson, taken just ahead of Enis by the Raiders, received an $8-million signing bonus. What do they teach these guys at Penn State?

EAST / Switzer Could Have Figured That Out Too

The Cowboys have won three Super Bowls this decade and owner Jerry Jones, who is prone to saying things that make no sense, is at it again.

"I believe we've got an opportunity, and I believe it's every bit the opportunity we've had in our Super Bowl years to be a team playing well when we get to the playoffs," Jones said. "I don't know of any year when we've had a better opportunity."

The Cowboys effectively ended the Giants' season last week.

"Realistically, they put us out of it," said New York Coach Jim Fassel in his concession speech. "Mathematically it didn't, but realistically it did."

That ought to fire up the troops for the rest of the season.

Last year, Fassel was coach of the year. Now he's the 21st coach of the year in the last 22 seasons to have failed to improve his team's record. The exception: Jimmy Johnson, who won the award after driving Dallas to a 7-9 record and then went 11-5 a year later.

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