New 49ers QBs coach Griese explains approach with Lance


SANTA CLARA -- From the time he knew he would not return as an analyst on Monday Night Football to the point Kyle Shanahan offered him the job to become 49ers quarterbacks coach, Brian Griese was too rushed to complete much homework.

He figured he would have ample opportunity later to learn about second-year quarterback Trey Lance as a player and a person.

“When I took the job, I only had two or three days,” Griese said this week. “I had to make a decision. So I didn’t look at Trey at all. I had conversations with Kyle about Trey and the kind of person he was. That’s what I was most interested in, honestly.”

Griese has been entrusted to help provide Lance with the tools necessary to succeed after Rich Scangarello left as 49ers quarterbacks coach to become offensive coordinator at Kentucky.

The 49ers expect Lance, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, to take over as the starting quarterback this season. Shanahan said this week he anticipates Jimmy Garoppolo will be traded before the start of the season. Griese said he not communicated with Garoppolo since taking the job.

His focus is on the quarterbacks in the building: Lance, Nate Sudfeld and rookie Brock Purdy.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve had the chance to dig in on Trey and talk to him about how he sees himself and talk to Kyle about how he sees him and what the future looks like for him here,” Griese said. “I’ve enjoyed that process immensely.”

Griese played 11 NFL seasons before joining ESPN in 2009 as a lead analyst on college football. He spent the past two seasons in the booth for Monday Night Football. ESPN recently hired Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for a two-person booth pairing beginning this season.

“I needed a new challenge and that coupled with the moment ESPN decided to go in a different direction,” Griese said about the circumstances of him landing his first coaching role. “They (ESPN) got a bigger fish, and I understand the dynamics of that, and I always understood that possibility, and probably likelihood, was out there.

“It was a challenge that I wanted to run towards and not away from. I’m excited about it.”

Griese sees Lance in much the same way that he sees himself. They are both experiencing situations for the first time in their roles — Griese as a coach and Lance as a presumptive starting quarterback in the NFL.

“Meeting him and getting to know him over the last several months, he is an outstanding young man in so many ways,” Griese said. “I’m excited to continue to get to know him, both on and off the field. I’m excited that he comes to work every day and he’s humble and he wants to get better.

“I view it the same way. I have my entire life, whether I’ve been playing or broadcasting or now being a coach. I’m going to come here with humility and we’re going to get better together.”

Griese noted that playing quarterback is likely the most mentally demanding position in all of sports. He said there is no way to avoid the pressure that comes with playing the position. His approach with Lance and the other quarterbacks in the room is to find ways to manage the stress and build coping skills.

He said in one of the first meetings he conducted, he began a conversation about why everybody was in the room.

“Why are we putting ourselves through this?” Griese asked. “Is it because you were just ordained or pre-destined to be the starting quarterback or the third overall pick and now you’re here because everybody tells you this is what you’re supposed to do?”

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He continued to pose questions: Are you here for the money? The glory and fame? For the competition? To build relationships? To make your family proud?

“Things like that to give perspective that I think is not so granular,” Griese said. “When you’re 3-5 and everybody tells you how bad you are, you have to have a broader lens. The other thing is those relationships. Who are you playing for?

"And when times get tough, do you have a depth of relationships with the people in that locker room and the coaching staff and the organization to pull from? That helps manage stress and high anxiety situations. There’s no substitute for that for a quarterback.”

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