Craig Massei on Greg Knapp

My friend Craig Massei has written for SF Insider for years, and he’s covered the 49ers since the late 1980s. We did a lot of stuff together when I wrote for the Seahawks for Scout.com, and I greatly respect his football sense. Craig was around the 49ers pretty constantly, with access, through the Mariucci/Knapp/Mora era, back when San Francisco had a rather combustible offense.

I asked him to give me his inside take on Knapp the individual and Knapp the strategist. Here’s what he had to say:

I got to know Knapp real well during his days with the 49ers, had several sit downs with him. Very cordial guy, open with his answers yet a bit reserved with his personality. I always liked him and thought he was a good guy. He plays it pretty straight.

He worked his way up with the Niners during the end of their dynasty from go-fer offensive quality coach to quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator, and did a very good job with the team every step of the way.

A former standout college quarterback at Sacramento State (my alma mater - GO HORNETS!), Knapp knows the game, knows offense and knows the all-important QB position. Of course, you can say that about most coaches. But Knapp is very detailed and stays true to his system; you won't be seeing his gameplan going all over the map. He'll be consistent.

He's a true disciple of the West Coast offense, at least the variation the 49ers were running at the turn of the century, which made running the ball a staple of the attack, despte the WCO reputation for winging it and lots of offensive fireworks. You'll see that Knapp knows the importance of establishing the run and sticking with it.

When he became offensive coordinator for Mariucci near the end of Mariucci's tenure, Mariucci actually turned the play-calling over to him, which is saying something, because Mooch was all ego and agenda, and had made a point earlier in his career to let everybody know that he was calling the plays when Marty Mornhinweg was Mooch's coordinator.

He makes a good team with Mora (see: Year 1 in Atlanta, also when they were working as OC and DC in San Francisco) and that counts for something, when the head offensive and defensive coaches are in tune. I know Mora is HC, but he'll always lean toward D as most defensive guys do.

Knapp's not going to wow you, but he's solid. He's a winner. You could do a lot worse.

I'm still not completely sold on the idea -- I had hoped the Seahawks would at least talk to Jeff Jagodzinski -- but Craig is a straight shooter when it comes to his opinions (you should hear him talk about the Erickson/Donahue debacle!) and his take drew me back from the bridge a little bit.

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