Why ESPN broadcaster Brian Griese was a good hire for 49ers quarterback coach

Brian Griese, left, joined ESPN as a broadcaster in 2009. Griese has been named quarterback coach for the San Francisco 49ers. In this photo, Griese and Steve Levy prepare for an NFL football game between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills, Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The 49ers raised a few eyebrows when they announced Brian Griese as their new quarterback coach.

Griese had worked as a broadcaster since joining ESPN in 2009 and has never been a coach at any level.

Let’s look at the case for this move making sense.

Griese is a football lifer. His father Bob was a Hall of Fame quarterback, leading the Miami Dolphins to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the early 1970s.

He knows the 49ers system. Griese played for Kyle Shanahan’s father Mike and sat behind John Elway during his rookie season with the Denver Broncos. He took over as the starter in 1999. Kyle Shanahan and Griese also crossed paths in Tampa Bay from 2004-2005, where Shanahan began his NFL coaching career as an offensive quality control assistant.

During his 11-year career, Griese played in 93 games for Denver, Miami, Tampa Bay, and Chicago. He was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2000 season.

In the NFL, the role of a quarterback’s coach is different than at lower levels. They don’t have the time on task available to focus on mechanics. Instead, quarterbacks focus on those areas throughout the offseason with personal coaches.

For example, Trey Lance spent most of 2020 working on his mechanics with Quincy Avery and Sean McEvoy. Following OTA practices last season Lance spent time in Southern California working with John Beck.

Once training camp and the season begins, it’s all about diving into the playbook and scheme.

This is where Griese’s experience comes in.

During an interview with KNBR in early February, Steve Young was asked who the 49ers should put around Lance.

“I’m a big fan of putting someone around you who can push you,” replied Young. “So, I’m not looking to not do that. But more than anything, he needs someone older who can tell him ‘this matters’ or ‘this doesn’t matter.’ … Teach him how to study. How to memorize. How to be reflective recall. So that everything that comes out of him is reflective, and he doesn’t have to think about it.”

“Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s dad, it was driven into you … the data. We need an older guy that can show him in the meeting room and then watch the film every week and go, ‘Trey this does not work,’ or, ‘This is what we need to build on.’ He needs somebody to go tell him all of this stuff, because he’s going to need it.”

Based on the type of person Young described, Griese is a perfect fit in San Francisco.

This article has 18 Comments

  1. Griese may be a great hire but I’m not sure I buy the “Brian Griese knows the 49er system” argument. Griese hasn’t been in that system in over 20 years. Defenses have changed. The Offense has changed. Players have changed. The familiarity argument just doesn’t make sense to me. I like everything else about Griese. Playing Experience, knowledge, demeanor, maturity all make sense that it would be helpful to Trey. Those are selling points I think. Not that he knows the offense.

    1. Defenses have changed. The Offense has changed.

      Did you know: he was in productions meetings with other teams

      1. Oh wow! I had no idea. Production meetings? Holy cow! Production meetings are definitely the same thing as coaching and game planning in the NFL for the past 15 years. Good call. Totally missed out on the production meetings angle.

    2. i still remember my high school offense from 29 years ago. although….it wasn’t very complex lol.
      With the news yesterday, about them paying Nate Suddfeld 2$M guaranteed……it seems clear that BG is that “veteran” qb we all thought would come in the form of Tyrod Taylor or Mariotta. Makes sense, considering those guys wont come cheap. That leads right into the JG drama! There’s just not enough qbs to go around this year…It seems that there is not one single qb in the draft that is good enough to come in and start from day one! thats pretty scary….considering how bad the first 2 picks looked last year! Lawrence had the jags picking number 1 again…..and this years class pales in comparison??!! Yikes!!
      There are a few teams that feel like they can win now. Hopefully they get into a bidding war. Niner fans are again, selling JG short

  2. People who think the 49ers have leverage when it comes to Jimmy’s trade value, seem to be misunderstanding the situation.

    Jimmy Garoppolo is an INJURED QB who is due to make $26M in the coming season, despite the fact that he can’t even start throwing a football until JULY, at the earliest. Why would help Jimmy’s trade value? If a team trades for Jimmy as is, they are getting:

    – a chronically injured QB who is currently unable to throw a football
    – a QB who has lost a considerable amount of mobility after knee reconstruction
    – a QB who is afraid to throw deep
    – a QB who is only effective on in-cutting routes
    – a QB who is afraid to throw deep
    – a QB who is schedule to be an unrestricted free agent after this coming season
    – a QB who loses track of stack linebackers dropping in coverage

    I understand that Jimmy Garoppolo is a good guy, and a good teammate. He’s a very likable guy, and he doesn’t point fingers. When he’s not hurt, he plays with a respectable level of toughness and grit.

    But if you are trading for Jimmy G, your trading for a QB who can’t even immediately step onto the football field and get to work. He’s a guy who is going to have to acclimate to a new team, and new system, and a new city, all while recovering from BOTH a torn ligament in his thumb, and surgery to repair a “capsule”, both injury on his throwing hand/shoulder. That only hurts his value …. considerably!

    In fact, I don’t understand why more people aren’t asking questions about this guy!

    Questions like: Why did Jimmy wait until March 8th to have surgery, knowing that the recovery schedule is 16-18 weeks, post-surgery? why wait more than a month? And why did this surgery seem to catch the 49ers by surprise?

    If the Niners are going to find a trade partner, and get anything of value in return for Jimmy, it sure seems like they will need to pick up somewhere in the neighborhood of the $8M that he’s already guaranteed due to this shoulder injury. I could be wrong, but it sure doesn’t look like the 49ers are in a position of strength when it comes to trade leverage. And to be honest, the more I think about it, the more I blame the 49ers brass. They knew who Jimmy was after the 2020 season, and they failed to move on, despite spending a fortune on another QB to replace him. And here we are ……

    1. My final Garoppolo prediction:

      The 49ers will either:

      Release Jimmy, and eat the $7.5 M injury guarantee for now, which of course would be offset, if/when he signs for more than that somewhere else

      or – they will trade Jimmy straight up for a 4th round pick

      or – they will pick up $7.5M (the equivalent injury guarantee he’s owed if the release him) of his 2022 salary, and they will get a 3rd round pick in return, that could become a 2nd round pick if he plays at least 14 or 15 games this coming season, which they will likely lose out on because Jimmy simply can’t stay healthy for any length of time

      1. Don’t worry, Grant..the Niners will trade Jimmy, and you can walk around town, proudly sporting your #5 Trey Lance jersey, telling anybody that’ll listen ‘I told you so’….after Jimmy’s gone, what are you gonna find to complain about on your podcast?..certainly without Jimmy on the roster, they are a team of perfection in every facet

        1. Unless McGlinchey is able to step back on the field. There’s been plenty there (justifiably so) for Grant to complain about.

    2. “they are getting:”

      For the right team a QB who can lead them on a deep playoff run. Something 80-90% of the NFL franchises are lacking.

  3. can someone just give a 7th rd pick for JimmyG – get this guy off the roster asap

    I am tired of refreshing my browser

  4. The reason why JG delayed his surgery is to make sure that the team that trades for him can retain as much assets as possible. He was trying to reduce his value, but I don’t think he succeeded. JG would rather his new team didn’t give up a number one pick or a bunch of other capital. Its business in the NFL…He could give a rat’s ass to what the Niners get.

    1. That’s a rather interesting take considering he will likely want an extension wherever he goes. He only has one year left on his contract. So he would rather keep more capital for the team trading for him than secure his own earning potential?

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