Greg Knapp returns to NFL with Atlanta Falcons, but ‘it all started at Sac State’

Sacramento State product Greg Knapp has another quarterbacks coaching gig. He was hired Monday by the Atlanta Falcons.
Sacramento State product Greg Knapp has another quarterbacks coaching gig. He was hired Monday by the Atlanta Falcons. Associated Press file

Greg Knapp has helped NFL quarterbacks set records, both as a QB coach and an offensive coordinator.

Knapp, who was away from the NFL after leaving the Denver Broncos following the 2016 season, will take on a second stint with the Atlanta Falcons. He was hired Monday to become the team’s quarterbacks coach.

This will be the fourth QB coach gig for Knapp, whose coaching career began at Sacramento State. From 1986-94, he served as running backs coach, wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator/assistant head coach for the Hornets. He told The Bee’s Joe Davidson in 2016 that he owes his career to the place where he played college ball.

“It all started at Sac State for me,” Knapp said. “I learned to play there, learned to coach there, got my degree there, my master’s there, my teaching credential. I loved Sacramento.”

Knapp, who played quarterback for the Hornets from 1982-85, was inducted into the school’s Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

In the NFL, he’s been a QB coach for the 49ers (1997-98), Houston Texans (2010-11) and most recently four seasons with the Denver Broncos (2013-16). While there, Peyton Manning had a record-setting season in 2014, passing for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns. The Broncos won Super Bowl 50 to end the 2015-16 season.

He’s also worked for the Raiders (2008-09) and Seattle Seahawks (2010), serving as offensive coordinator.

In his first stop in Atlanta, where he was an offensive coordinator from 2004-06, the quarterback was Michael Vick. The Falcons rushed for 183.7 yards per game and Vick became the first QB in NFL history to run for 1,000 yards in a season, according to The Associated Press.

This time around, Knapp, 54, will work with Matt Ryan, who earned MVP honors in 2016-17. Knapp’s predecessor, Bush Hamdan, left to become the University of Washington’s offensive coordinator.

The Falcons’ offense failed to put up the same type of numbers achieved the previous season under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. (Shanahan is now the 49ers’ head coach.) Under first-time NFL offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, Atlanta dropped from second to eighth in total offense and from first to 15th in points per game.