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49ers Owner Surveys Squad

The San Francisco 49ers training camp was just under way last year when Carmen Policy suddenly resigned as president, triggering a volatile and drawn-out front-office transition.

Now, less than a week into this training camp, the club was hit with an ownership shakeup. As part of a deal resolving a feud over more than $1 billion in family assets, suspended owner Eddie DeBartolo gave up his stake in the team and his estranged sister, Denise DeBartolo York, and her husband, John York, assumed full ownership and control.

"Next year at this time, I'm not coming," coach Steve Mariucci quipped Saturday.

"In a perfect world, you'd like to have some stability and continuity and comfort and some routine within your job, like anybody would. But it simply hasn't been that way. Certainly we would never make it an excuse for us to fail, so we simply just keep on trucking."

York delivered a similar message to the club in brief conversations with players, coaches and administrators during Saturday's training camp practice and later in an address to the team.

"I'm not sure what an owner does right now other than to make sure you've got the right leaders in place and the right coaches and that they have the right equipment and right tools to make sure everything runs so that you can win," York said.

York declined to comment on the deal reached Friday splitting the assets of the DeBartolo family's financial empire, saying he was under court orders not to talk about it.

Under terms of the pact, which could be weeks or months away from final approval, DeBartolo gave up his half of the team. He also acknowledged owing $94 million to the family corporation and received properties and stock worth tens of millions of dollars.

The deal, once finalized, would settle the siblings' dueling lawsuits over control of the family's holdings.

It also ends a 22-year association with the club by Eddie DeBartolo, whose free-spending run was marked by five Super Bowl titles and an agonizing finish.

DeBartolo withdrew as chairman of the team and his sister took over in December 1997 when he became caught up in a gambling fraud probe in Louisiana. He's still serving a year-long NFL suspension that came soon after his guilty plea last October on a charge arising from the gambling probe.

The siblings' suits, filed in federal court in Ohio, are on hold while the sides put the finishing touches on their settlement.

"We've known Eddie for all these years," quarterback Steve Young said. "Now, it's time to get to know the Yorks."

Mariucci said the Yorks already have shown a willingness to spend the money needed to make necessary acquisitions of players and keep the team's competitive footing.

"While we have to comply with salary cap rules, we can still be very aggressive and spend every penny that you have," Mariucci said. "We've done that. Thehaven't changed a thing."

The commitment to success is unchanged but York stressed that the team would be run in a professional, business-like manner.

"I don't see how you can be part of this team and not recognize that the only thing you're supposed to do with this team is to win," York said.

York added he didn't expect any management changes and said the club was fortunate to have strong administrative and coaching staffs, led by general manager Bill Walsh and Mariucci.

"We have a great group of people here," said York, who will oversee day-to-day operations while maintaining his Youngstown, Ohio, residence. "I think they're getting the players in order and I'm pleased with what I see. It looks great to me."

He also said they're keeping the team in San Francisco and had no intention of selling.

"We have no plans other than owning this team and making sure that they're here in San Francisco," York said.

He also said he hoped to get a plan for a new stadium back on track.

"We're going to make sure we have a viable stadium. We're going to get it worked out," he said.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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