‘The appropriate problem’: Why Brian Griese left tv to be 49ers’ quarterbacks coach

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Brian Griese spent his complete grownup life both enjoying soccer or speaking about it on tv. Each jobs had been on the heart of the Griese household enterprise for the higher a part of 55 years, however in February, Griese out of the blue discovered himself at a crossroads.

His time within the Monday Evening Soccer sales space was ending after two years, with ESPN hiring what Griese calls a “larger fish” in Troy Aikman to change into the only real analyst. And whereas profitable TV offers have been virtually as prevalent as giant participant contracts in the course of the NFL offseason, Griese did not have time to attend to see if a kind of affords would materialize if he wished to pursue a profession path that had all the time been at the back of his thoughts.

That’s how Griese ended up at dinner with San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and his workers on an early March night. Solely a few days earlier, Griese reached out to Shanahan by way of intermediaries in Denver, together with Kyle’s father, Mike Shanahan, to precise curiosity in turning into the Niners’ quarterbacks coach.

Though Griese, 47, had no earlier teaching expertise, Kyle Shanahan was intrigued. He had interviewed a number of candidates however had identified Griese for about 25 years, courting again to Griese’s time enjoying for Mike Shanahan with the Denver Broncos within the late Nineties and as an offensive assistant for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004 and 2005, when Griese was a participant for the Bucs.

The dinner provided an opportunity for Griese and the Niners’ workers to get to know each other, discuss soccer, life and the way he would possibly match into the San Francisco dynamic. Greater than that, it was an opportunity for Shanahan to learn the way invested Griese was in such a dramatic profession shift.

“Brian was very profitable, has a household out in Denver, hours change rather a lot and so they all say they know, which he does, nevertheless it will get totally different as soon as you actually get into it,” Shanahan mentioned. “We actually tried to scare the heck out of him, tried to inform him how unhealthy it sucked and the way depressing he was gonna be and the way a lot your spouse’s not gonna prefer it.”

Regardless of Shanahan and his workers’s finest efforts at a soccer version of “Scared Straight,” Griese was unfazed. For each concern Shanahan or one other coach broached, Griese had a solution. Extra importantly, he slot in simply with the opposite assistants, and though there’d be a studying curve, Shanahan referred to as it a straightforward choice. Inside 48 hours of first contact, Griese was his man and he quickly signed a two-year contract to exchange departing quarterbacks coach Wealthy Scangarello.

For the Niners, it was a daring rent given their ongoing quarterback drama. They have been about handy the keys to promising however unproven quarterback Trey Lance and have been within the midst of the seemingly unending Jimmy Garoppolo saga.

Whether or not it is a long-term profession change for Griese or not stays to be seen. However for now, it is an opportunity to do one thing totally different and scratch his aggressive itch, which he’ll do once more for the 49ers (1-2) after they host the Los Angeles Rams (2-1) on Monday Evening Soccer (8:15 ET, ESPN/ESPN2/ESPN+/ABC).

“I knew this was gonna be a problem that I used to be prepared for, however you by no means know till you get into it,” Griese mentioned. “There is not any successful or dropping within the sales space. And I loved my time doing it. I actually did and there have been some management features to it, of main a group of 125 or 150 folks to go and canopy a recreation and, and to do it nicely and to do it underneath the brightest lights and to speak and to show the sport to folks at dwelling. And I loved all of that, however when the sport was over, you did not know if you happen to gained or misplaced.”


UNDER DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES, teaching soccer would have already been part of the Griese occupational lineage.

5 video games into his 14th NFL season, Bob Griese, father to then-6-year-old Brian, suffered a shoulder damage. It was extreme sufficient to finish his 1980 season and his Corridor of Fame profession at 35 years outdated.

Lengthy identified for his capacity to suppose his manner by way of Miami Dolphins wins, Bob was a pure match on legendary coach Don Shula’s workers. Shula wasted no time providing Bob a place serving to the group’s quarterbacks, a job he accepted for the 1981 season.

In a wild soccer coincidence that unknowingly portended his son’s first yr in teaching, Bob helped Miami by way of that season whereas navigating a two-quarterback conundrum of his personal between David Woodley and Don Strock, a duo that might change into often called “Woodstrock.” Bob helped Miami to an 11-4-1 document and an AFC playoff berth.

He was such a training pure that Shula requested him to stay round for the lengthy haul. However there was one vital impediment: Bob discovered himself away from his spouse and three sons far an excessive amount of.

“I assumed I might do an excellent job and that is why Shula mentioned, ‘No, you like this,'” Bob mentioned. “I mentioned, ‘Yeah, however I like my household extra.’ It was the hours. I do know I might have been good at it as a result of I do know what it took to be an excellent coach. But it surely was the time that was the important thing.”

Bob Griese left teaching after one season and went to NBC in 1982. Broadcasting allowed him extra time together with his household whereas additionally holding him near the sport. His largest concern on recreation days was announcing names appropriately and effectively providing evaluation between performs. Griese spent the following 30-plus years in both the tv or radio sales space calling school and NFL video games.

The opposite distinguished problem with a life in teaching: It may be a nomadic life spent other than household as assistants working their manner up the meals chain.

For ESPN school basketball analyst Jay Bilas, that, greater than the hours, was what saved him from persevering with to teach after serving as an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski at Duke for 3 seasons. It is also why he opted to step into the broadcasting sales space regardless of receiving affords to return to the sidelines.

“After all, you take a look at that and say, ‘That may have been enjoyable,'” Bilas mentioned. “I do know I made the suitable choice for our household, so I would by no means second-guess that a part of it. However broadcasting would not present the identical aggressive outlet that being concerned in sports activities does.”

When Brian Griese knowledgeable his father this offseason that he was contemplating leaping into teaching, his dad had one instant query: What about your loved ones?

Brian’s spouse, Brook, and his daughter, Lia, and son, Nathan, each of whom are in highschool, stayed in Denver after he took the job with the Niners however provided their blessing.

They have been the primary purpose Griese did not make the bounce to teaching sooner and why he selected to enter the sales space first.

“My youngsters have been younger and I did not wanna bounce across the nation,” Griese mentioned. “It was actually so simple as that. My household had made sacrifices for me to play for a very long time, and I felt prefer it was time for me to be dwelling. After 13 years, my youngsters have been grown up, they’re on the point of get out of the home. When this chance got here, it was the suitable time and it was the suitable problem at that second.”


JUST BEFORE THE Niners opened coaching camp July 26, Griese discovered himself pondering what he would have been doing if he pursued one other NFL broadcasting job as a substitute of coming to San Francisco. Except for spending time together with his household, Griese reckoned he’d be meticulously finding out NFL rosters for additions and subtractions, studying new coach and participant names, jersey numbers and pronunciations and diving deeper into offseason storylines for all 32 groups.

As a substitute, Griese was planning to information two younger quarterbacks, Lance and seventh-round decide Brock Purdy, by way of coaching camp as Garoppolo loomed within the background whereas recovering from proper shoulder surgical procedure.

“I used to be so grateful to be right here, let’s simply put it that manner,” Griese mentioned, laughing.

Griese took the job assuming Lance can be the starter and Garoppolo would possible be on one other group, which is why he and Garoppolo had subsequent to no communication till Garoppolo reported for coaching camp. Griese spent the offseason working with Lance, Purdy and veteran Nate Sudfeld, whom the 49ers ultimately launched.

In some methods, it was a straightforward match for Griese, whom Shanahan calls “one of many smartest gamers” he has ever been round. Shanahan remembers his time as a younger assistant in Tampa Bay, the place he watched Griese put together for video games and marveled at his capacity to memorize the whole lot and spit it again with out lacking a beat.

That Griese might additionally faucet into enjoying expertise earned him immediate credibility with the Niners’ quarterbacks, who primarily knew him as a broadcaster however quickly understood that he spent 11 years of their sneakers.

The information of little issues like tips on how to management the huddle, providing tips about figuring out indicators from the protection pre-snap and even tips on how to take care of the media cast straightforward relationships.

Griese gained that knowledge in his 83 NFL begins with the Broncos, Dolphins, Buccaneers and Bears, which included a Professional Bowl look in 2000. He was additionally the beginning quarterback for Michigan’s 1997 nationwide championship group.

“He simply sees it very equally to you,” Garoppolo mentioned. “It is powerful to teach a quarterback. You have got to have the ability to see it the identical manner as him, which quite a lot of guys suppose they do, however they do not. And he simply has the expertise of being on the sector, being in these moments, and it is good to have a man like that round.”

By his personal admission, Griese continues to be making an attempt to determine his teaching fashion. It is an ongoing course of for any coach, but in addition one Shanahan desires to assist domesticate in an offseason wherein the Niners had 14 coaches who have been both new or shifting into totally different roles.

All that turnover left Shanahan and his workers holdovers spending extra time teaching different coaches on the finer factors of tips on how to train gamers whereas understanding their particular person quirks and communication wants.

“I might say that is virtually all of what teaching is, is ‘How will we train?'” 49ers passing recreation coordinator Bobby Slowik mentioned. “How will we instill what we all know and what we would like onto these people which will hear issues we are saying in numerous methods. … The entire technique of that’s actually the secret.”


IN SOME OF Griese’s first weeks on the job, he’d go to Shanahan perplexed about why he would inform a participant to do one thing and the message would appear to be obtained however would not translate to the sector.

“He’d are available in and be like, ‘Man, why will not they do it?'” Shanahan mentioned. “Nicely, welcome to teaching, man. You do not simply say it and so they do it. You gotta reframe it. You gotta get a special manner. Not each individual thinks the identical. Not all people is bodily the identical. … You gotta be your self however you gotta attain folks a special manner.”

Whereas the enchantment of getting a end result each week was a driving drive in his profession change, Griese additionally acknowledges it is a leap he would not have made had it not been for the precise probability to work with Shanahan.

In some methods, Griese and Shanahan are kindred spirits, raised within the day by day enterprise of soccer by fathers identified for his or her capacity to be mentally one step forward of their opponent.

“I wasn’t trying and I actually wasn’t gonna simply take any job,” Griese mentioned. “I wasn’t gonna come right here if I did not really feel 100% good about that. … It was a novel scenario and a novel timing … these two issues coming collectively led to a chance and a choice that I really feel actually good about.”

A month into his first yr on the job, Griese helps the Niners navigate their perpetually murky quarterback waters. He is not but eager about shifting up the teaching ranks and even how lengthy he plans to do it. As he places it, his priorities have gotten one of the best coach he might be and contributing to get the end result he has been lacking after video games: savoring victories reasonably than agonizing over losses.

“One in every of our core tenets we talked about in our very first assembly was pushing our consolation zones and difficult ourselves,” Griese mentioned. “I am a lifelong learner. I hope that so long as I am on this earth, I am studying and rising. This expertise has actually been that, and I feel we’re approaching or not less than giving ourselves a chance to be our greatest self after we’re persevering with to develop.”

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