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One Big Idea: Let’s make Brian Griese our OC

Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

With the selection of Adam Peters as Washington’s head of football operations, a new era has dawned in this franchise’s history. Thirty years of frustration, embarrassment, and terrible football are left in the rearview mirror, and hope has dared to show her face again in the nation’s capital.

Historically, these “One Big Idea” pieces have been shouts in the void, futile attempts to save a disoriented front office from itself. Today, however, that changes. I’ll continue the “One Big Idea” articles, but offer them up to a new front office, which I firmly believe will be more data-driven, responsive, and results oriented.

Over the next two weeks, there will be manic-paced set of interviews for Washington’s next head coach, and I expect that to consume most of the attention. What I’d like to do here, however, is look a little further down the coaching hierarchy.

First up, offensive coordinator.

There’s considerable discussion among fans as to whether Washington’s next head coach should be offensive-minded (Ben Johnson, Bobby Slowik, etc.) or defensive-minded (Mike Macdonald, Aaron Glenn, etc). And those are interesting discussions, but whichever of those directions the team chooses, it will very likely involve a current coordinator being elevated into a head coaching role for the first time, and will probably - at least temporarily - pull him away from his core competency.

If Washington goes current OC with its head coach pick, the team will likely need someone under him adept at grooming young quarterbacks. Someone who can put both the team’s newly drafted play caller and Sam Howell on the path to success. If the team, instead, selects a current DC as its next head coach, this option is probably off the table.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Griese, come on down!

Griese only recently got into coaching, starting as the 49ers QB coach in 2022. It turns out, he wasn’t necessarily looking to become a coach, but was personally courted by Kyle Shanahan in early 2022, after having mentioned interest in the position to Kyle’s father Mike:

“I wasn’t looking for a coaching job. Not at all,” Griese said. “I hadn’t spent one minute thinking about it. But you know, I got a call and started to have this conversation with (head coach) Kyle (Shanahan) and I had known Kyle since he was in high school. He had an opening with Rich Scangarello, who went to college (as offensive coordinator at Kentucky).

Son of Dolphins’ great Bob Griese, Brian, of course, played QB in the NFL for about a decade, from the late 1990s until 2008, and then went into the broadcast booth as a college football analyst and part of the Monday Night Football crew. He’s surely a quantity that new GM, Adam Peters, is familiar with, and an understudy of Shanahan - who calls plays for the 49ers’ offense.

He also, apparently, has a knack for identifying collegiate quarterbacking talent. A piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, written at the end of the 2022 season, explored Griese’s role in selecting quarterback Brock Purdy in the 7th round of the draft that year:

But Griese and Kubiak saw something in Purdy, who didn’t have great size (6-foot-1, 220 pounds) or eye-popping arm strength. But he was a four-year starter at Iowa State, set 32 school records, and led the Cyclones to four straight winning seasons for the first time since 1923-27.

The coaches met with Purdy via Zoom before the draft and discussed his background along with X’s and O’s. And they got intel on his character from other sources. Running backs coach Anthony Lynn, for example, spoke with one of Purdy’s teammates who was entering the draft, running back Breece Hall, about playing with the QB.

When it comes to quarterbacks, Griese is big on accuracy and intangibles. Purdy, who owns Iowa State’s career completion percentage record, kept hitting the mark when it came to other QB traits.

In the offseason, over a span of several months, Griese and assistant quarterbacks coach Klay Kubiak were charged with studying college quarterbacks, about 15 in all, and presenting their grades and evaluations to the rest of the staff before the draft. They did so understanding it could be fruitless. The 49ers had Trey Lance, backup Nate Sudfeld and plenty of other draft needs.

“A lot of folks look at how big they are,” Griese said. “How strong they are. How far they can throw it. How fast they are. And these things are important. Don’t get me wrong. But I think accuracy is undervalued. I think leadership is undervalued. I know that we valued the fact that Brock was selfless. He was humble. Relationships mattered to him.

“You can tell pretty quickly if a quarterback is about lifting up other people around him. Or if it’s about him. And Brock is very clearly about the team and competing and winning.”

Griese’s transition to coaching was not without its ups and downs, however, and he’s benefitted from the guidance of Kyle Shanahan:

In some of Griese’s first weeks on the job, he’d go to Shanahan perplexed about why he would tell a player to do something and the message would seem to be received but wouldn’t translate to the field.

“He’d come in and be like, ‘Man, why won’t they do it?’” Shanahan said. “Well, welcome to coaching, man. You don’t just say it and they do it. You gotta reframe it. You gotta get a different way. Not every person thinks the same. Not everybody is physically the same. ... You gotta be yourself but you gotta reach people a different way.”

49ers’ fans seem to be grappling with the reality that Griese could potentially leave this off-season, and they raise the reasonable point that, if San Francisco wanted to, they could promote Griese to OC themselves. Of course, then that would leave the 49ers offensive line coach, Chris Foerster, up to potential poaching as an OC.

What do you think about the idea of Adam Peters bringing Griese along with him from San Francisco to both help identify a future Washington QB in the draft and shepherd the care and feeding of the young play caller under the tutelage of a head coach like Ben Johnson?

Poll

Could you get behind Brian Griese as Washington’s next OC?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Yeah, I’d love that.
    (578 votes)
  • 30%
    Meh.
    (323 votes)
  • 13%
    No, I’d prefer someone else.
    (142 votes)
1043 votes total Vote Now