Phillips Wants To Stay A 49er

South Africa's Bless Kemp (31) greets Brett Willemburg at the dugout after Willemburg scored against Canada in the fifth inning in Round 1 of the World Baseball Classic, Tuesday, March 7, 2006, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Lawrence Phillips wants another chance with the San Francisco 49ers and insists he didn't deserve to lose his first one.

The 49ers disagree.

The running back was suspended Friday for refusing to take part in drills at practice, the team said. Coach Steve Mariucci later said Phillips would never play for the 49ers again.

In his first public comments since his suspension, Phillips said Wednesday "the turn of events has surprised me."

"I have tried to play and succeed at whatever role asked of me by the organization, hoping that my hard work each week would increase my role," Phillips said in a statement his agent released.

Phillips denied he refused to take part in workouts or burst out laughing during an on-field lecture by Mariucci.

He would only admit to being frustrated playing for a team that has struggled this season after years of success.

"I have never refused to practice or questioned its need, despite nagging injuries, fully understanding that missing repetitions can decrease my role as it did during training camp," Phillips said.

"I never intended to mock coach Mariucci or disrespect the coaching staff, nor was I ever thrown or kicked off the field. I have admittedly been unhappy, as any competitive player should be. I appreciate the opportunity to play for the San Francisco 49ers and hope to return to the team."

Mariucci said at least part of Phillips' frustrations stemmed from his disappointment over losing the primary tailback's job to Charlie Garner.

"I don't have a lot more to say about it," Mariucci said. "We're trying to move on, you know? Get it behind us and move on full speed ahead."

Phillips, a once-promising player out of Nebraska whose football career has been marred by arrests and run-ins with coaches, will be released as soon as the team figures out how it will affect its salary cap, Mariucci has said.

The 49ers signed Phillips in July when it became clear Garrison Hearst would be unable to return after breaking his ankle last season. Phillips signed a two-year contract worth $1.75 million following an outstanding season playing for NFL Europe.

"I think it's been a difficult adjustment for Lawrence. Sometimes, coaches and players don't exactly mesh," Phillips' agent, Mitch Frankel, said. "It's been a frustrating year for both Lawrence and the team."

Frankel said the club told him Phillips' suspension was for three games. Mariucci said Phillips will be gone before the suspension runs ts course.

The agent and the team also are contesting how much money is owed Phillips from his $425,000 signing bonus. About two-thirds of it was deferred and the 49ers contend they don't have to pay the balance because Phillips didn't live up to his contractual obligations.

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