Knapp excited to return as part of new Raiders regime

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Knapp excited to return as part of new Raiders regime

INDIANAPOLIS -- Within hours of joining Dennis Allen's staff, new Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp made a phone call to his quarterback.

Initially, there were questions about Carson Palmer's future with the Raiders after Hue Jackson, the man who brought him to Oakland in a blockbuster trade, was fired.But there is no longer any uncertainty about Palmer's role with the Raiders in 2012. Both Allen and Knapp have come out in strong support of the Raiders incumbent quarterback.

"I've heard all these great things about him before I got here and since I've been here," Knapp told CSNBayArea.com before returning from the NFL scouting combine.

"Talking to him on the phone about a half-dozen times, and I think I'm just as excited to work with him as he is to work in our offense."

Knapp, who previously worked for the Raiders during the forgettable Lane Kiffin era, is excited, all right. He used a form of the word six times in a six-minute interview.What's not to be excited about?Knapp spent the past three seasons as quarterbacks coach with the Houston Texans. The allure of returning to California was great, but he said he was even more eager to sign on with Allen and new general manager Reggie McKenzie.

"There's a definite positive vibe going on," Knapp said. "I was very excited to see what Reggie's plan was when I came in and initially met with him.

"D.A.'s energy is contagious with everybody. The players are feeling it. The guys who have been in the building for a long time -- equipment guys, trainers, video guys -- are feeling it. It's neat to be a part of something at the ground level and build this thing."

There isn't a whole lot of building that needs to happen on offense, as Knapp already has the main component of a passing game with a veteran quarterback. And he is reunited with one of the more dynamic running backs in the league.

"I was here last in 2008, and Darren McFadden was a rookie that year," Knapp said. "I'm excited to get back with him. He really fits our run scheme well, as far as the zone scheme which I'll be implementing with our coaches. That's a great starting point for me."

While Knapp has been in the NFL, he has been on staffs that regularly enjoyed success on the ground with such running backs of varied styles, such as Garrison Hearst (49ers), Warrick Dunn (Atlanta), Justin Fargas (Raiders) and undrafted Arian Foster (Houston).And Knapp believes McFadden has the perfect running style for the offense the Raiders will employ.

"He doesn't mess around when he runs," Knapp said. "When he makes a cut, he's going north and south. And he has the ability to go the distance any time the ball is in his hands. That's hard to find in this business because there is so much speed on the field on defense. Darren has the attributes to be able to take the ball all the way and score."

Knapp said in addition to Palmer and McFadden, he has also spoken with pending free agent running back Michael Bush, backup quarterback Terrelle Pryor and guard Cooper Carlisle. Due to new NFL rules, his first chance to begin coaching the new system to the players will be April 2.

"There will be a learning curve," he said. "I think that happens with any transition with a new team. But we'll have plenty of time to get it implemented. Whenever we're in a start-up mode like we are here, like a start-up company, it's my job to make sure that we don't do everything at once but piece it correctly together. We'll have building blocks, so to speak, to implement the offense."

And he'll have plenty of help.Steve Wisniewski was retained from the former staff as an assistant offensive line coach. Knapp added Frank Pollack, with whom he coached with the Houston Texans. Pollack knows the zone scheme from his training with legendary line coach Alex Gibbs and Texans line coach John Benton.

The Raiders also retained running backs coach Kelly Skipper, who served on the same Oakland staff with Knapp in 2007 and 2008. Another key individual retained is veteran coach Al Saunders, who held the title of offensive coordinator under Jackson and is back as "senior offensive assistant."

"It was great to be able to retain Al Saunders, who knows football and football's football," Knapp said "And he has enough years of experience, and he'll be very helpful in game-planning and talking about personnel."

With Allen's background on the defensive side, Knapp figures to have autonomy to run the show on offense. But Knapp said he does not look at it that way.

"I want Reggie's input on personnel and D.A.'s input on football stuff," Knapp said. "Those are two bright minds. That was a big reason I came here. The environment of how Reggie and D.A. envision the building and the team really coincides with what I believe it takes to play winning football. So I'm looking forward to getting a chance to work with those guys to help implement our offense and work together to win a championship."

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich had a strong indication he would be fired as Oregon’s head coach. And he said he told Chip Kelly recently he would have no hard feelings if Kelly left the 49ers to return to coach the Ducks.

Kelly this week said he is not interested in abandoning his job with the 49ers to coach in the college ranks. Helfrich suggested during a radio interview on Friday that Kelly told him the same thing privately.

When it was suggested that Kelly hated to recruit, Helfrich did not disagree.

"That's a fact," Helfrich said in an interview on ESPN Radio's Russillo and Kanell. "I don't know hated recruiting. . . a dislike. A strong dislike. But I think Chip has that challenge in his mind right now to make it right in the NFL.

"I had some of those conversations with him a couple weeks ago when it looked like this was going south. That was a very awkward converation, but (I) just wanted to let him know that to take our personal relationship out of it in every way, shape or form if he wanted to consider this.

"But, me, reading between the lines, I think he wants to make it right in the NFL. I think he wants to win at that level. He's had a rough go of it this year, but he'll get it right."

Kelly compiled a 46-7 record in four seasons in Eugene, Ore. He left after the 2012 season to accept the head-coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly was fired late last season and took the 49ers job two weeks later.

In Kelly’s first season with the 49ers, the club is 1-10. The 49ers are on a franchise-long 10-game losing streak entering Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

Helfrich was 37-16 in his four seasons at Oregon after his promotion from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Kelly said he spoke with Helfrich the morning after he was fired.

“I just felt bad for Mark. I love him like a brother,” Kelly said. “He’s a tremendous person. He’s a hell of a football coach, but he’s an even better person. Just felt for him and the rest of the guys on that staff. It’s an unfortunate thing that goes on in this profession. We all know about it when we sign up, but when it happens you’re still taken aback by it.”

Kelly said he hoped his denial of any interest in the Oregon job would end all speculation about his future. When asked if intends to remain with the 49ers, Kelly said on Wednesday, “Yep. So we're all done with that, I hope."
 

Injury report: Dial set to return for 49ers; Patton, Lynch questionable

Injury report: Dial set to return for 49ers; Patton, Lynch questionable

Defensive lineman Quinton Dial, who sat out last week’s game with knee and neck issues, will return to action Sunday for the 49ers at Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears.

Dial was not listed on the team’s injury report after going through two limited practices this week. The 49ers had only a walk-through Friday in Orlando, Fla., but Dial was cleared to return to full activity, the team announced.

Wide receiver Quinton Patton (concussion) and outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (ankle) were both listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

Patton appears to be on pace to be cleared in the NFL’s return-to-play concussion protocol. He has returned to non-contact football activity after sustaining a head injury last week against the Miami Dolphins.

Lynch has already missed four consecutive games with a high-ankle sprain. Lynch has appeared in only three games this season. He sat out the first four games of the year while serving a four-game suspension for violating the leageu’s policy of substances of abuse.

The Bears listed six players as questionable for the game, including outside linebackers Willie Young and rookie Leonard Floyd. Young leads Chicago with 6.5 sacks, while Floyd is second with five sacks.

Quarterback Jay Cutler has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. Matt Barkley will make his second career start.

49ERS
Questionable
LB Aaron Lynch (ankle)
WR Quinton Patton (concussion)

BEARS
Out
QB Jay Cutler (right shoulder)
Questionable
LB Willie Young (knee)
S Adrian Amos (foot)
WR Eddie Royal (toe)
LB Leonard Floyd (concussion)
CB Deiondre' Hall (ankle)
G Josh Sitton (ankle)