SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The San Francisco 49ers have handed their reins to Dennis Erickson, a successful college coach who has failed to match that success in the NFL.
The 49ers on Tuesday named Erickson as their coach and will introduce him at a news conference on Wednesday. Erickson has tendered his resignation at Oregon State.
Defensive coordinators Ted Cottrell of the New York Jets, Greg Blache of the Chicago Bears and Jim Mora Jr. of the Niners conducted second interviews last week with Niners General Manager Terry Donahue and were believed to be the finalists for the job. But Donahue reached out to potential college candidates over the past few days and surprised many with the selection of Erickson.
Bob Stoops of Oklahoma, Rick Neuheisel of Washington and Kirk Ferentz of Iowa rebuffed inquiries, but Erickson wanted to return to the NFL after turning Oregon State into a winning program with a 31-17 record and three bowl appearances.
The 55-year-old Erickson coached the Seattle Seahawks from 1995-98, compiling a 31-33 record and never leading them into the playoffs. They finished 8-8 three times and 7-9 in 1996.
Mike Holmgren left the Green Bay Packers to replace Erickson and has also struggled in Seattle with an identical 31-33 record.
Before joining Seattle, Erickson won two national championships at the University of Miami in 1989 and 1991, going 63-9 in six seasons.
Erickson followed Jimmy Johnson at Miami and will succeed Steve Mariucci in San Francisco. Mariucci went 60-43 in six years with the Niners and led them to four playoff appearances, but never to the Super Bowl, and was fired on Jan. 15.
Mariucci was recently named coach of the Detroit Lions and is seeking to hire Mora as his defensive coordinator. Mora will likely accept the offer after not being selected as Niners coach.
Erickson was named college coach of the year in three different conferences - Big Sky with Idaho, Pac-10 with Washington State and Oregon State and Big East with Miami.
After being fired by the Seahawks, Erickson brought instant success to Oregon State, which had its last winning season in 1970. The Beavers were 7-4 in Erickson's first season and 11-1 with a share of the Pac 10 title and a No. 4 ranking in 2000.