“He lived life in a loving way that helped him connect with people from all walks of life in a unique way,” Saleh said. “In his short time here, I believe the people in this organization had a chance to experience that connection.”
Knapp, 58, was hired by the Jets in January, shortly after Saleh was brought aboard. Given the role of passing game specialist, Knapp was charged with a crucial role in the development of quarterback Zach Wilson, the second overall pick in this year’s draft whom the Jets expect to start right away.
On Tuesday, with Knapp reportedly in critical condition at a hospital, his family said, “Greg is an amazing father and husband whose passion for life can be felt in all his interactions with people. He is our rock and biggest supporter, pushing us to all strive to better ourselves each day with constant love and inspiration.
“While many know him for his achievements as a coach, his impact as a father and husband are far greater.”
Knapp’s agent, Jeff Sperbeck, said Thursday (via KUSA) that the longtime NFL coach was surrounded when he died by his wife, three daughters, mother and brother. Knapp was immediately rendered unconscious in the crash Saturday, Sperbeck said, and never regained consciousness.
A spokesperson for the police department in San Ramon, Calif., where the incident took place, said Thursday that the crash occurred shortly before 3 p.m. as Knapp’s bicycle and the car were traveling in the same direction. The driver, described as a 22-year-old male, remained on the scene and cooperated with investigators.
“At this point in the investigation,” the spokesperson added, “drugs and or alcohol do not appear to be a contributing factor to the collision.”
Police said that once their traffic unit completes its investigation, the findings will be turned over to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.
Knapp was reported to be a resident of Danville, located a few miles north of San Ramon and approximately 80 miles southwest of California State University, Sacramento. He played quarterback there from 1982 to 1985 before immediately going into coaching at the school. He rose to become the Hornets’ offensive coordinator and assistant head coach from 1991 to 1994, then began a 26-year NFL career that included an eight-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers.
Troy Taylor, the Hornets’ head coach, said in a statement Thursday that Knapp’s death left his program “heartbroken.”
“Greg was not only a great former Hornet player and coach, but one of the kindest and most generous people that I’ve ever known,” Taylor said. “His success and humility have been an inspiration to all of us here at Sacramento State. We will continue to carry on his legacy within our football program and wish his family and friends peace and comfort through this difficult loss.”
In addition to the 49ers, Knapp served as an offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks. He was the quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos in 2013, when Peyton Manning set an NFL record with 55 touchdown passes, and was the team’s passing game coordinator when it won Super Bowl 50 in 2016. Knapp also served as quarterbacks coach for the Houston Texans in 2010-11.
As Sperbeck noted, other notable quarterbacks Knapp coached include Steve Young, Jeff Garcia, Rick Mirer, Matt Schaub, Matt Ryan and Michael Vick.
Of working with the Jets’ group of young, inexperienced quarterbacks — James Morgan and Mike White, in their second and third years, respectively, are vying to back up Wilson — Knapp said last month that it was a “really cool” experience.
“Both my parents are teachers,” Knapp said then. “It’s like, here’s the canvas, start teaching them what you know without overteaching them too quickly. So that’s the challenge, but it’s really exciting.”
“In his short time with us, Greg had an immediate influence on those who had the pleasure of spending the smallest amount of time with him,” Jets Chairman Woody Johnson said of Knapp Thursday. “His legacy is not only working with some of the brightest quarterbacks the league has ever seen, but the countless others across this world he has had an indelibly positive influence on.”