SANTA CLARA — The 49ers did the unimaginable in 2022, smashing their way into the NFC Championship Game with the third quarterback on their roster at the helm and there’s a good reason for that.
Coach Kyle Shanahan is known as an offensive genius, but the 49ers’ not-so-secret weapon on offense could be quarterbacks coach Brian Griese. The longtime quarterback served as an ESPN commentator for more than a decade before joining San Francisco’s coaching staff ahead of the 2022 NFL season.
Trey Lance, Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold and even former 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo shared how Griese’s experience under center makes him a valuable coach.
“Griese has been awesome so far,” Darnold said during OTAs. “Really throughout the process, just when I decided to sign here. Griese has been great for me just to be able to talk about learning the system, coming to a new team, certain expectations that arrive and be the new guy on the block.
The former Carolina Panthers quarterback explained that it’s even more of Griese knowing the offensive system inside and out. The 49ers coach knows what happens before the ball is broken is also important.
“It’s also having that mindset, ‘OK, when I step into this group, I’m the leader,'” Darnold said. “And guys will, if they have any questions, they should trust me that I know the answer in terms of the scheme and what they got, so Griese has been great that way.”
Brock Purdy has yet to throw a football since undergoing surgery on his ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm on March 1. Still, the young quarterback shared how Griese helps ensure they use their time on the court wisely.
“Oh yeah, that’s been awesome, really just picking up where we left off last year,” Purdy said. “I always say, his experience, he’s been in our shoes, so he’s able to relate to a lot of things – what we see, how we feel, situational football.”
Griese spent 11 seasons in the league on four different teams after being drafted in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. The Michigan alum finished with an NFL record of 45-38 and a career completion rate of 62.7%.
After spending his first five seasons with the Broncos, Griese played a year in Miami before heading to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons and the Chicago Bears for two more. The quarterbacks coach’s final season in the NFL was a return to Tampa where he started five games.
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Now, he’s passing on his years of wisdom to the crowded 49ers quarterback room.
“To pick up on the momentum we had last year, and then the fact that he was able to really break down wards and different concepts, having Griese in our corner was a blessing,” Purdy said. “It’s the man.”
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