SaberCats QB Grieb shines as O-coordinator

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SaberCats QB Grieb shines as O-coordinator

It's Tuesday morning at the San Jose SaberCats complex in Sunnyvale and the team's offensive players are gathered in a group meeting listening to their offensive coordinator break down the week's game plan. Only this isn't just any offensive coordinator, it's also the team's quarterback ... Arena Football legend Mark Grieb.

And when Grieb talks, his teammates listen.

But what's most striking about the way he commands the room isn't the reverence with which he's received, it's the ease with which he's handling the role. For the first time in his pro football career, Grieb is his own offensive coordinator.

Everyone realizes this means Grieb is calling his own plays in games but few people think about him also having to teach those plays to his team, practice them on the field and discuss how they'll be implemented with his team during the week.

From the outside looking in, he appears to be handling the role with relative ease. This should hardly be surprising considering his pedigree both on and off the field.

As a player, Grieb has more than stood the test of time. When he first arrived on the Bay Area sports scene in 1999 Steve Young was still the 49ers QB, Barry Bonds had yet to join the 500 Home Run Club and Antawn Jamison was just wrapping up his rookie season as a Warrior. All those players are long, long gone but Grieb is still going strong.

But it's Grieb's off the field growth that might be serving him most in his newly adapted role as both QB and OC. During the SaberCats two-year hiatus from existence Grieb earned his teaching credential and went back to school. He spent his two years away from football teaching high school biology in Southern California.

And in watching Grieb lead his teammates in an offensive meeting, printed out diagrams and notes in hand, it's obvious his time in front of the high-schoolers has him well suited to taking on this new task. He has clearly evolved into a coach in every sense of the word, knowing exactly what he wants out of his players, how to convey that so they understand and most importantly, how to get them to believe in his teachings.

Grieb's prowess in the job is so impressive it actually presents minor obstacles. Take last week's win in Spokane for instance.

With the SaberCats up 35 points late in the 4th quarter it was obvious Grieb's services as a QB were no longer needed. It was a perfect time to put in rookie backup Danny Southwick. Only one problem. If Grieb left the game so too did the team's OC.

Clearly Southwick couldn't call the plays. If Grieb were pulled the situation would get sticky. Grieb would have to relay the plays to Head coach Darren Arbet through a headset and Arbet would then have to relay them to Southwick -- not very efficient.

So the 'Cats left Grieb in the game... until he sustained a minor injury on his final series, that is. After that the "telephone" game was on.

(For the record the Grieb-Arbet-Southwick relay team engineered a touchdown drive to close out the scoring for the SaberCats).

There are whispers Grieb's playing days could be drawing to a close but for now those are just whispers. Whenever Grieb does hang up the shoulder pads a move to a fulltime OC and eventually fulltime head coach is all but a certainty.

For his part, the soon-to-be 38-year-old refuses to say just how long he'll continue this dual role with the 'Cats and there's little reason to really think about stopping. Through three games this season he's in the top 3 in most of the AFL's passing stat categories and the offense is averaging the second most points in the league.

More importantly, the SaberCats are just a single point away from being unbeaten in 2012 and Grieb is clearly still having a blast. His team is one of the favorites to win the title this summer and if that happens there's little doubt Grieb will be feeling the itch to defend his title much more than walk away on top.

Reports: Weber, Hornets agree to deal hours after Warriors release him

Reports: Weber, Hornets agree to deal hours after Warriors release him

Briante Weber wasn't unemployed very long.

Less than 12 hours after the Warriors released him, the guard has reportedly agreed to sign a 10-day contract with the Charlotte Hornets.

News of the agreement was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

Weber's second 10-contract with the Warriors expired following Saturday's game against the Nets. Immediately after the contest, the team announced they were releasing the 24-year-old.

In seven games with the Warriors, Weber averaged 1.7 points, 0.7 assists and 0.6 rebounds in 6.6 minutes.

 

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

The 49ers’ new regime heads to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week with the first major wave of offseason activity set to kick off.

Already, the 49ers have made roster improvements. And there figure to be plenty of activity ahead in the coming weeks.

Here are some questions submitted by readers on Facebook for this edition of 49ers Mailbag:

Do you see the 49ers cutting ties with larger contracts like Bethea, Torrey Smith and Ahmad Brooks?‬ (Blair Wilkins)
The 49ers have approximately $75 million in space under the salary cap – and that’s before any adjustment of Colin Kaepernick’s contract. So it’s not as if the organization needs to create cap room.

Any decision made to part ways with veteran players will be made solely on how that player fits into what the 49ers envision on the field.

And that’s what general manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff are doing now. They are studying the video from last season to determine which players fit their ideals.

Safety Antoine Bethea is scheduled to earn $5.75 million. Bethea, 32, enters the final year of his contract. There is no question he is everything the 49ers want in a player off the field. If one of the younger guys is not better than Bethea, there is no reason to get rid of him.

Brooks is on the books to earn $5.3 million in 2017. That’s not a huge amount for a starting outside linebacker or defensive end – whichever spot he might fit best. The 49ers must look to upgrade their pass rush. Brooks turns 33 next month. He’s good for six sacks a season. Again, it’s not as if the 49ers can’t afford him. And, as of now, it’s not as if the 49ers have anyone better.

Smith is scheduled to earn $8 million. He has been vastly underutilized in his two seasons since signing with the 49ers. He’s the most interesting case of the high-priced veterans.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is predicated on using the running game to set up the play-action shot down the field. Smith is limited. He’s not a possession receiver. He’s not going to make plays over the middle. He is an outside receiver whose contributions come in the vertical passing game. But that’s what Shanahan wants.

If Smith is paired with a strong tight end, a running back who catch the ball out of the backfield, a slot receiver with short-area quickness to get open underneath, a very good receiver on the other side and an accurate quarterback who can throw the deep ball, there should be a role for Smith in the 49ers’ offense.

Will the 49ers continue to be aggressive pursuing free agents this offseason? If so, what positions?‬ (Bradley Lodge)
The 49ers have zeroed in on two veteran free agents and they signed them both.

The organization has already spent more money than it did all of last offseason on veteran free agency with the four-year, $16 million deal to sign defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, whom the Miami Dolphins recently released.

Nickel back K’Waun Williams has a history with 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. The 49ers did not have to make much of a financial investment to sign him.

The 49ers will definitely go after a veteran quarterback or two in free agency or via trade. Pass rusher, inside linebacker and wide receiver are other positions the 49ers can be expected to look during free agency.

The opening of the new league year – when free-agent signings and trades can occur – is March 9. The draft is seven weeks later.

The 49ers must fill as many of their needs with smart deals that fit into the long-term plan with veteran acquisitions. Then, the draft is about taking the best players on their board when it’s time to select. Teams that reach for need generally strike out.

What are the chances of drafting a QB with first pick and playing them behind a Kap / Cousins until they're ready to become starter?‬ (Hillory Broussard)
If Colin Kaepernick returns, it will not be as a no-questions-asked starter. Just read what Lynch said on KNBR this week about the team’s needs:

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely. And we’re committed to doing that.”

That statement can easily be interpreted that Lynch does not believe the 49ers had a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster last season.

But if the 49ers were to go out and swing a trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s going to take a big commitment – in terms of draft picks and a suitable new contract. Then, the 49ers would have that player.

Cousins or Garoppolo would unquestionably fill the 49ers’ need at quarterback for 2017 and beyond -- at least in the minds of the 49ers' new decision-makers. There would be no reason for the 49ers to then draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick – if the 49ers even had the No. 2 overall pick at that point.