Greg Knapp, longtime NFL assistant, dies at 58

Denver Broncos quarterback coach Greg Knapp oversees a morning session at the team’s training camp Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Englewood, Colo. Knapp if a former offensive coordinator for the 49ers. He played quarterback and coached for Sacramento State. The Raiders host Denver on Sunday, Oct. 11. The 49ers visit Denver for an exhibition game on Saturday, Aug. 29.

Denver Broncos quarterback mentor Greg Knapp oversees a early morning session at the team’s coaching camp Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, in Englewood, Colo. Knapp if a former offensive coordinator for the 49ers. He performed quarterback and coached for Sacramento Point out. The Raiders host Denver on Sunday, Oct. 11. The 49ers stop by Denver for an exhibition recreation on Saturday, Aug. 29.

David Zalubowski

The Connected Press

He went by “Knapper” to those who understood him very best, who performed for him, who loved him.

Greg Knapp, the a person-time Sacramento State quarterback who served nine years as a Hornets assistant coach before embarking on a extensive NFL assistant coaching career died Thursday afternoon.

The former 49ers and Raiders assistant mentor experienced major head and system accidents from a Saturday bicycle crash when he was hit by a motorist in an intersection around his Danville property. Knapp by no means regained consciousness in the John Muir Well being Medical Heart in Walnut Creek, in which he was surrounded for times by spouse and children and near good friends. Knapp was 58. He leaves powering his spouse Charlotte and 3 young children.

Knapp was to start out his initial season as passing-match coordinator with the New York Jets next week beneath previous 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Knapp labored with the club’s quarterbacks in recent mini-camp periods.

Clancy Barone played with Knapp in the early 1980s at Sac Condition, Barone a lineman from the countryside of Crimson Bluff and Knapp a history-placing passer from the shorelines of Southern California. They had been near close friends for 40 yrs. They created sure their coaching lockers in stints in Atlanta and Denver had been following to each other. They spoke regularly on the phone.

“We’ll skip him,” Barone mentioned as he was boarding a airplane to Chicago, where he works as an assistant coach with the Bears. “Knapper was so sincere in all the things he did. I was this region kid from Pink Bluff and he was this cool kid from the beach. Excellent lord, we couldn’t be a lot more diverse. I know Knapper. He would not want any of us to experience sorry for him, to slow down. He’d need that we go on, that we live daily life and that when you go out to evening meal, get the most highly-priced steak and the greatest bottle of wine since that’s the Knapper attraction and everyday living is excellent.”

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

“He told me on the mobile phone, ‘Clance, really do not leap out of an airplane or journey mountain roadways on a bike! Hold it safe and sound!’” Barone stated. “He mentioned he was likely on a 90-minute bicycle ride in Danville the next day on these excellent bicycle trails. I wished him luck. The up coming day, he took that experience and by no means built it residence. Just so sad.”

A quarterback mentor

Knapp was a late bloomer, a winner for the underdog who worked with some of the ideal quarterbacks in NFL record, like Peyton Manning as passing-sport coordinator and quarterback coach when the Denver Broncos won Tremendous Bowl 50 in Santa Clara.

Knapp was a indigenous of Huntington Seashore whose high university crew, the Oilers, leaked losses and went 1-9 his senior time in 1980. He would joke about his incapacity to lead a profitable push as a participant. Knapp gave up soccer to study business at UC Santa Barbara, but he missed soccer. He wasn’t recruited in higher college but identified a system desperate for expertise in Sacramento State.

Knapp researched sports sections in newspapers in library archives and located the Hornets experienced managed just five victories in excess of a 5-calendar year time period, ending in 1980. He achieved out to the late Hornets coach Bob Mattos, who made available an invite. Mattos at the time stated he’d provide a tryout to “anyone with two legs and a nutritious coronary heart.” He also said that Knapp was, “as great a individual and mentor as any of us will ever fulfill.”

But the initial impact was a head turner.

Knapp strolled into Mattos’ workplace, placing at 6-foot-4, but also putting on cut-off blue jeans with flowers, prolonged hair and an impression of awesome. He tidied up the glimpse, received the setting up work and established myriad Hornets passing marks and led the cost to a breakthrough 8-3 period in 1985.

Then Knapp was hooked as a mentor, shelling out 9 decades at Sac Point out and bouncing all-around the NFL. He and Barone were on the coaching workers of two Denver Tremendous Bowl teams, together with the profitable 1 to cap the 2015 season at Levi Stadium. Knapp informed The Bee right before that Tremendous Bowl, “It all began at Sac Condition for me. I learned to play there, acquired to coach there, acquired my degree there, my master’s there, my training credential. I loved Sacramento.”

He additional in admiration and appreciation, “My career’s absent quick. I’ve been really lucky. I’ve survived the ups and downs of this profession, and in every shift, I’ve gained a lot more. I nevertheless have classes from Sac Condition and these excellent players and coaches, ‘Tree’ Plumbtree, Jerry Haflich, Mike Clemons. They gave me options and activities I never could have imagined would guide to all of this. Heck of a trip.”

Work with Manning, Younger

Knapp challenged Manning in 2015 to alter his mechanics, to use his legs a lot more to compensate for a decline of arm power. Manning reported that 7 days, “Greg’s been good for me.”

Knapp also worked with Steve Younger in San Francisco. Claimed Knapp in a Bee job interview in 2015, “What Steve Youthful taught me from Day A single was, ‘You’re not paid out to enjoy me and praise me. You are paid to coach me. If you see anything mistaken, you convey to me.’ I’ll never ever forget that. I was 31, initial year in the league, and here’s a upcoming Hall of Famer telling me how to do it, if I required to stay in this enterprise. Peyton’s the identical way. I’m heading to mentor him hard, just like a rookie, and he’s respected the heck out of that. Makes this exciting.”

The information of Knapp’s loss resonated by the location. His agent was longtime friend and Sacramento solution Jeff Sperbeck, brother of one-time Sac Point out head football mentor Marshall Sperbeck.

Stated Jeff Sperbeck, “Greg’s infectious temperament is most people’s first and lasting memory of him. The phrase, ‘he never achieved a stranger,’ encapsulates Knapper’s zest for lifestyle. He experienced a unique present to make everyone feel unique, and to Knapper, they all have been.”

Knapp connected with Sac Point out gamers as a pupil-assistant coach and then as an assistant. That incorporates Mark Younger, the former Cordova Superior Faculty and Sacramento City School star who dazzled as a receiver in the late 1980s at Sac Condition. He appreciated working under Knapp and was pained by his loss Thursday.

“Devastating for all of us who knew Knapper,” Youthful stated. “To all of us at Sac State, he was the brain rely on, so much forward of the sport, even as a younger person. You could just convey to he was special.”

Youthful additional, “At Sac Point out, in 1987, that was a poor year for me. I was academically ineligible, and Knapper was our educational advisor. He was on me. He aided me. We liked him. He clicked with us younger dudes, and we all followed his vocation. It was not possible not to adore Knapper.”

Profile Image of Joe Davidson

Joe Davidson has included sports activities for The Sacramento Bee due to the fact 1988. He is a 14-time award winner from the California Prep Athletics Author Affiliation. In 2021, Davidson was honored with the CIF Distinguished Provider. He is a member of the California Coaches Affiliation Hall of Fame. Davidson was a large university athlete in Oregon, where by he participated in football and observe.

Amelia J. Bell

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