May 16, 2022

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Greg Knapp, longtime NFL assistant, dies at 58

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

David Zalubowski


The Linked Press

He went by “Knapper” to those people who realized him finest, who played for him, who beloved him.

Greg Knapp, the one-time Sacramento State quarterback who served 9 yrs as a Hornets assistant mentor ahead of embarking on a extensive NFL assistant coaching career died Thursday afternoon.

The former 49ers and Raiders assistant mentor experienced main head and overall body accidents from a Saturday bicycle crash when he was hit by a motorist in an intersection near his Danville household. Knapp never ever regained consciousness in the John Muir Health Medical Center in Walnut Creek, wherever he was surrounded for times by household and close mates. Knapp was 58. He leaves driving his spouse Charlotte and three youngsters.

Knapp was to commence his initially year as passing-match coordinator with the New York Jets up coming week less than previous 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Knapp labored with the club’s quarterbacks in the latest mini-camp periods.

Clancy Barone performed with Knapp in the early 1980s at Sac Point out, Barone a lineman from the countryside of Purple Bluff and Knapp a document-placing passer from the shorelines of Southern California. They were near pals for 40 several years. They produced absolutely sure their coaching lockers in stints in Atlanta and Denver ended up following to every other. They spoke on a regular basis on the cell phone.

“We’ll overlook him,” Barone explained as he was boarding a plane to Chicago, exactly where he operates as an assistant mentor with the Bears. “Knapper was so sincere in anything he did. I was this nation kid from Pink Bluff and he was this interesting child from the beach. Fantastic lord, we couldn’t be additional various. I know Knapper. He wouldn’t want any of us to truly feel sorry for him, to slow down. He’d desire that we go on, that we live life and that when you go out to supper, buy the most expensive steak and the ideal bottle of wine due to the fact that is the Knapper appeal and lifetime is very good.”

Barone stated he spoke to Knapp some 12 hrs right before his Saturday accident. They when compared football notes, talked about spouse and children and retiring someday from the coaching grind.

“He informed me on the mobile phone, ‘Clance, never leap out of an plane or experience mountain roadways on a bike! Continue to keep it harmless!’” Barone stated. “He mentioned he was heading on a 90-moment bike journey in Danville the future working day on these fantastic bike trails. I wished him luck. The upcoming day, he took that experience and under no circumstances created it property. Just so unfortunate.”

A quarterback mentor

Knapp was a late bloomer, a champion for the underdog who labored with some of the ideal quarterbacks in NFL record, which include Peyton Manning as passing-activity coordinator and quarterback mentor when the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara.

Knapp was a indigenous of Huntington Beach whose significant school group, the Oilers, leaked losses and went 1-9 his senior period in 1980. He would joke about his incapability to lead a winning push as a participant. Knapp gave up soccer to analyze small business at UC Santa Barbara, but he missed soccer. He was not recruited in large school but found a software desperate for talent in Sacramento State.

Knapp examined sporting activities sections in newspapers in library archives and uncovered the Hornets experienced managed just 5 victories around a 5-yr period, ending in 1980. He reached out to the late Hornets mentor Bob Mattos, who provided an invite. Mattos once reported he’d supply a tryout to “anyone with two legs and a healthy coronary heart.” He also stated that Knapp was, “as fine a person and coach as any of us will at any time satisfy.”

But the first effect was a head turner.

Knapp strolled into Mattos’ office environment, placing at 6-foot-4, but also putting on slash-off blue jeans with bouquets, lengthy hair and an picture of awesome. He tidied up the look, received the starting up position and set myriad Hornets passing marks and led the cost to a breakthrough 8-3 year in 1985.

Then Knapp was hooked as a coach, paying out 9 many years at Sac Condition and bouncing all over the NFL. He and Barone were being on the coaching employees of two Denver Tremendous Bowl groups, together with the profitable 1 to cap the 2015 season at Levi Stadium. Knapp told The Bee in advance of that Tremendous Bowl, “It all begun at Sac Point out for me. I figured out to enjoy there, acquired to mentor there, received my degree there, my master’s there, my instructing credential. I liked Sacramento.”

He included in admiration and appreciation, “My career’s absent rapidly. I have been incredibly fortuitous. I have survived the ups and downs of this profession, and in each individual move, I have gained much more. I continue to have lessons from Sac Condition and all those fantastic gamers and coaches, ‘Tree’ Plumbtree, Jerry Haflich, Mike Clemons. They gave me prospects and ordeals I in no way could have imagined would guide to all of this. Heck of a experience.”

Get the job done with Manning, Young

Knapp challenged Manning in 2015 to change his mechanics, to use his legs far more to compensate for a decline of arm energy. Manning reported that week, “Greg’s been terrific for me.”

Knapp also labored with Steve Younger in San Francisco. Reported Knapp in a Bee interview in 2015, “What Steve Youthful taught me from Day One was, ‘You’re not paid out to watch me and praise me. You’re paid to coach me. If you see a thing mistaken, you inform me.’ I’ll by no means forget that. I was 31, initially 12 months in the league, and here’s a long term Hall of Famer telling me how to do it, if I preferred to stay in this organization. Peyton’s the identical way. I’m likely to mentor him difficult, just like a rookie, and he’s highly regarded the heck out of that. Will make this fun.”

The news of Knapp’s reduction resonated by means of the region. His agent was longtime friend and Sacramento products Jeff Sperbeck, brother of a single-time Sac State head football coach Marshall Sperbeck.

Explained Jeff Sperbeck, “Greg’s infectious character is most people’s first and lasting memory of him. The phrase, ‘he never met a stranger,’ encapsulates Knapper’s zest for lifestyle. He had a unique reward to make anyone feel particular, and to Knapper, they all were being.”

Knapp linked with Sac State players as a college student-assistant coach and then as an assistant. That contains Mark Young, the previous Cordova Large University and Sacramento City College or university star who dazzled as a receiver in the late 1980s at Sac State. He liked doing the job beneath Knapp and was pained by his decline Thursday.

“Devastating for all of us who understood Knapper,” Youthful explained. “To all of us at Sac State, he was the mind have confidence in, so considerably in advance of the recreation, even as a young man. You could just convey to he was particular.”

Young additional, “At Sac State, in 1987, that was a bad yr for me. I was academically ineligible, and Knapper was our educational advisor. He was on me. He served me. We loved him. He clicked with us young dudes, and we all adopted his occupation. It was impossible not to appreciate Knapper.”

Profile Image of Joe Davidson

Joe Davidson has lined athletics for The Sacramento Bee since 1988. He is a 14-time award winner from the California Prep Sports activities Author Affiliation. In 2021, Davidson was honored with the CIF Distinguished Services. He is a member of the California Coaches Affiliation Hall of Fame. Davidson was a substantial university athlete in Oregon, wherever he participated in football and track.