Greg Knapp, longtime NFL assistant, dies at 58


Denver Broncos quarterback mentor Greg Knapp oversees a morning session at the team’s coaching camp Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Englewood, Colo. Knapp if a previous offensive coordinator for the 49ers. He performed quarterback and coached for Sacramento Condition. The Raiders host Denver on Sunday, Oct. 11. The 49ers go to Denver for an exhibition video game on Saturday, Aug. 29.

David Zalubowski

The Connected Push

He went by “Knapper” to these who understood him finest, who played for him, who liked him.

Greg Knapp, the a single-time Sacramento Point out quarterback who served nine a long time as a Hornets assistant coach ahead of embarking on a lengthy NFL assistant coaching profession died Thursday afternoon.

The former 49ers and Raiders assistant mentor suffered key head and overall body accidents from a Saturday bicycle crash when he was strike by a motorist in an intersection near his Danville dwelling. Knapp in no way regained consciousness in the John Muir Wellbeing Health care Middle in Walnut Creek, wherever he was surrounded for times by household and close close friends. Knapp was 58. He leaves driving his spouse Charlotte and 3 young ones.

Knapp was to commence his first period as passing-video game coordinator with the New York Jets up coming week beneath previous 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Knapp worked with the club’s quarterbacks in current mini-camp classes.

Clancy Barone performed with Knapp in the early 1980s at Sac Condition, Barone a lineman from the countryside of Crimson Bluff and Knapp a record-setting passer from the beaches of Southern California. They had been shut pals for 40 yrs. They made absolutely sure their coaching lockers in stints in Atlanta and Denver had been up coming to every other. They spoke on a regular basis on the cellphone.

“We’ll skip him,” Barone explained as he was boarding a aircraft to Chicago, in which he performs as an assistant mentor with the Bears. “Knapper was so honest in every thing he did. I was this state child from Purple Bluff and he was this awesome child from the seaside. Fantastic lord, we could not be far more diverse. I know Knapper. He wouldn’t want any of us to come to feel sorry for him, to gradual down. He’d need that we continue, that we stay lifetime and that when you go out to supper, buy the most costly steak and the finest bottle of wine simply because that’s the Knapper charm and everyday living is excellent.”

Barone mentioned he spoke to Knapp some 12 hrs in advance of his Saturday incident. They compared football notes, talked about loved ones and retiring someday from the coaching grind.

“He instructed me on the cellular phone, ‘Clance, don’t leap out of an plane or trip mountain roadways on a bicycle! Continue to keep it secure!’” Barone stated. “He claimed he was going on a 90-minute bicycle ride in Danville the subsequent day on these amazing bicycle trails. I wished him luck. The subsequent working day, he took that trip and never built it home. Just so sad.”

A quarterback mentor

Knapp was a late bloomer, a winner for the underdog who labored with some of the most effective quarterbacks in NFL heritage, such as Peyton Manning as passing-game coordinator and quarterback mentor when the Denver Broncos received Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara.

Knapp was a indigenous of Huntington Seaside whose significant faculty workforce, the Oilers, leaked losses and went 1-9 his senior time in 1980. He would joke about his lack of ability to lead a profitable push as a participant. Knapp gave up football to research business at UC Santa Barbara, but he missed football. He wasn’t recruited in large college but uncovered a application desperate for expertise in Sacramento State.

Knapp analyzed athletics sections in newspapers in library archives and uncovered the Hornets experienced managed just 5 victories in excess of a 5-yr period, ending in 1980. He reached out to the late Hornets coach Bob Mattos, who provided an invite. Mattos once mentioned he’d provide a tryout to “anyone with two legs and a healthier coronary heart.” He also stated that Knapp was, “as good a individual and coach as any of us will at any time satisfy.”

But the initially impression was a head turner.

Knapp strolled into Mattos’ office, placing at 6-foot-4, but also wearing cut-off blue jeans with flowers, prolonged hair and an graphic of great. He tidied up the search, won the beginning work and set myriad Hornets passing marks and led the charge to a breakthrough 8-3 year in 1985.

Then Knapp was hooked as a mentor, expending nine decades at Sac Point out and bouncing all over the NFL. He and Barone were being on the coaching staff of two Denver Super Bowl teams, such as the winning one to cap the 2015 year at Levi Stadium. Knapp informed The Bee before that Super Bowl, “It all begun at Sac State for me. I acquired to play there, acquired to mentor there, obtained my diploma there, my master’s there, my teaching credential. I beloved Sacramento.”

He included in admiration and appreciation, “My career’s long gone rapid. I have been really fortunate. I’ve survived the ups and downs of this profession, and in just about every move, I have obtained additional. I nonetheless have lessons from Sac State and those people great players and coaches, ‘Tree’ Plumbtree, Jerry Haflich, Mike Clemons. They gave me options and encounters I by no means could have imagined would lead to all of this. Heck of a journey.”

Do the job with Manning, Youthful

Knapp challenged Manning in 2015 to regulate his mechanics, to use his legs extra to compensate for a decline of arm toughness. Manning said that week, “Greg’s been excellent for me.”

Knapp also labored with Steve Young in San Francisco. Reported Knapp in a Bee job interview in 2015, “What Steve Young taught me from Working day A single was, ‘You’re not compensated to check out me and praise me. You’re paid out to coach me. If you see anything wrong, you inform me.’ I’ll hardly ever fail to remember that. I was 31, initial 12 months in the league, and here’s a future Hall of Famer telling me how to do it, if I wanted to remain in this company. Peyton’s the exact same way. I’m likely to mentor him tricky, just like a rookie, and he’s highly regarded the heck out of that. Tends to make this entertaining.”

The information of Knapp’s loss resonated via the area. His agent was longtime good friend and Sacramento merchandise Jeff Sperbeck, brother of just one-time Sac Condition head football coach Marshall Sperbeck.

Mentioned Jeff Sperbeck, “Greg’s infectious individuality is most people’s very first and long lasting memory of him. The phrase, ‘he by no means achieved a stranger,’ encapsulates Knapper’s zest for everyday living. He had a one of a kind gift to make absolutely everyone sense exclusive, and to Knapper, they all were.”

Knapp connected with Sac Condition gamers as a pupil-assistant coach and then as an assistant. That consists of Mark Youthful, the previous Cordova Large Faculty and Sacramento City College star who dazzled as a receiver in the late 1980s at Sac State. He liked performing underneath Knapp and was pained by his decline Thursday.

“Devastating for all of us who knew Knapper,” Younger reported. “To all of us at Sac Point out, he was the mind have confidence in, so far in advance of the sport, even as a younger person. You could just inform he was specific.”

Younger additional, “At Sac Condition, in 1987, that was a negative yr for me. I was academically ineligible, and Knapper was our academic advisor. He was on me. He assisted me. We cherished him. He clicked with us younger dudes, and we all followed his occupation. It was unachievable not to really like Knapper.”

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Joe Davidson has protected sports for The Sacramento Bee given that 1988. He is a 14-time award winner from the California Prep Sporting activities Writer Association. In 2021, Davidson was honored with the CIF Distinguished Support. He is a member of the California Coaches Affiliation Hall of Fame. Davidson was a superior university athlete in Oregon, where he participated in football and observe.