Greg Knapp '85 (Communication Studies)

Knapp helps NFL offenses soar

It might be enough to have a job where you get to wear shorts and work outside every day. Or have co-workers who are household names. Or even play a game for a living. But when your work is also your passion, it doesn’t get much better. Ask Greg Knapp.

The former Sac State football standout has been the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers, the Oakland Raiders, and the Houston Texans. He’s now the quarterbacks coach for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

“The best part of this job is waking up in the morning knowing I’m doing what I love to do,” Knapp says. “I have a passion for coaching. It’s fun to go to work.”

After joining the then-Division II Hornets as a walk-on in 1982, Knapp went on to become one of the most productive passers in Sac State history. Nine years on the coaching staff at Sac State, including three as assistant head coach, and summers as a training camp quarterback for several NFL teams helped Knapp hook up with the 49ers in 1995.

Knapp served three seasons as San Francisco’s quarterbacks coach and is widely credited with helping turn current starter Jeff Garcia from a journeyman backup to a Pro-Bowler. Under Knapp’s tutelage, Garcia broke the 49ers single-season record for passing yards, formerly held by Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young.

As coordinator, Knapp was responsible for the offensive production, which in the case of the 49ers was among the best in the NFL over the years. He was the supervisor of a corps of position coaches who work with the players.

“At practice, I was responsible for game preparation, making sure everyone knows their assignments,” Knapp says. “It’s a great challenge developing a game plan and delivering it, knowing there’s another guy on the side trying to stop you.”

Knapp graduated from Sac State in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies, with an emphasis in radio and television broadcasting.

“It was a great opportunity. My degree did me a lot of good because, obviously, this business is really media-driven,” he says.

He went on to get a teaching credential and a master’s degree in education administration. Both of his parents were teachers, which he says influenced his choice in careers.

“The way I was raised definitely had an effect on my desire to coach, because coaching is teaching,” Knapp says.

Though he doesn’t get a chance to follow Hornet football during the season, Knapp stays in touch with the coaching staff. He even invited then-coach John Volek and his wife to 49ers training camp.

“I’m happy to give any encouragement I can,” he says.

And the admiration goes both ways.

“Greg is a Hall of Fame Hornet,” says Volek. “He has never forgotten his roots and has always given back to the program. Even though he now wears red and gold, he is green and gold inside.”

Sac State is also where Knapp met his wife Starla, who was then director of financial aid. In those days, football players weren’t on scholarship, and instead relied on the Student Athlete Support Program.

“Starla, who was then Starla Satchel, gave us space in the financial aid office for the student athletes,” Knapp says. “I knew her for six years as a friend so I guess it was meant to be.”

This article was originally published in the Fall 2001 edition of Sac State Magazine.