Dick Tomey's hiring by the San Francisco 49ers was two months in the making, the former Hawaii head coach said yesterday. In fact, 49ers general manager Terry Donahue and Tomey were talking about a job on the new staff ever since former coach Steve Mariucci was let go in January. Tomey was on Donahue's UCLA staff in 1976, the year before Tomey became the head man at UH.
49ers had been
By Dave Reardon
"It took awhile, but I'm happy," Tomey said. "It was in the works for some time. We had to make sure I would be a good fit and the chemistry would work with the new coach."
Tomey said his title of nickel coach under new head coach Dennis Erickson is a little misleading. It doesn't mean he is the individual coach of the nickel backs.
"Basically I'll be turned loose on third down," he said. "We really struggled on third down last year."
Tomey laughed when reminded that UH alumnus Jeff Ulbrich is a linebacker who gets pulled on third down. He didn't make any promises to play Ulbrich in passing situations.
"Jeff is a good football player," Tomey said. "But I have not studied the tape yet of the games, so I can't really say anything yet, other than I look forward to working with defensive coordinator Jim Mora Jr."
Tomey will leave his job of the past two years doing color analysis for UH football telecasts. No replacement has been named.
"His professionalism and expertise were great," KFVE-TV general manager John Fink said. "We knew we might lose him to other opportunities, but he did an outstanding job for us and we will miss him."
Forgotten man: UH offensive linemen Wayne Hunter and Vince Manuwai made big splashes at the NFL Combine two weeks ago in Indianapolis.
Their linemate, center Lui Fuata, was there, too. He just didn't work out for the scouts.
"It was all right. I got to meet a lot of people, important people," Fuata said. "I liked the experience. I just did interviews and took a physical. They all basically ask you the same questions. They want to know what kind of person you are."
Fuata is still recovering after surgery following an injury in the Alabama game on Dec. 1. Fuata tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee.
He works out his upper body with weights and does a lot of swimming to stay in shape. Fuata said he returns to Indianapolis next month to show NFL doctors his rehab progress. He expects to start running in about three weeks.
"They'll check the knee again then," said Fuata, who started three years for UH. "It's coming along slowly but surely.
Short yardage: Senior running back John West has put on 10 pounds of muscle since the end of the season. ... Former UH head coach Fred vonAppen is now assistant head coach at Montana.