Kevin Gilbride will be one of three rookie coaches to begin the 1997 season. In a profession with an ever-decreasing margin for error, the grace period for Gilbride, the Giants' Jim Fassel and the 49ers' Steve Mariucci will be shorter than ever. There is some precedent for success (though not much): Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, 13 of the 114 rookie coaches who began the season took their teams to the playoffs, including Gilbride's predecessor, Bobby Ross.
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