New York Jets assistant coach Greg Knapp died on Thursday from injuries sustained five days earlier in San Ramon when a vehicle and his bicycle collided while traveling on Dougherty Road. He was 58.
Knapp, an NFL assistant coach for 26 years including previous stints as offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers and then-Oakland Raiders, never regained consciousness after the impact of the crash on Saturday afternoon, according to his family. His wife, three daughters, mother and brother were by his side when he died at a Walnut Creek hospital just after 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
"Greg's infectious personality is most people's first and lasting memory of him," his family said in a statement released by the Jets on Thursday. "The phrase 'He never met a stranger' encapsulates Knapper's zest for life. He had a unique gift to make everyone feel special, and to Knapper, they all were."
The news of Knapp's death was first confirmed publicly by Knapp's agent Jeff Sperbeck in a statement to 9News sports reporter Mike Klis in Denver, where Knapp won a Super Bowl ring as quarterbacks coach for the 2015 Broncos. He was in his first year with the Jets after being hired to join new head coach Robert Saleh's staff as passing game specialist.
Knapp, who had an offseason home in Danville, had been hospitalized since the serious collision in San Ramon's Dougherty Valley on Saturday afternoon.
San Ramon police said Knapp was cycling in the bike lane on Dougherty Road just north of North Monarch Road around 2:50 p.m. when a vehicle, also traveling northbound at an unknown speed in the right-most driving lane, collided with Knapp's bicycle.
The cause and primary factors of the collision are still under investigation, according to San Ramon police. They did report that initial evidence indicated Knapp's bicycle was fully within the bike lane when the crash occurred.
His family said Knapp was immediately knocked unconscious when struck by the car and never regained consciousness before his death.
The name of the driver, a 22-year-old man from Danville, has not been released publicly -- a common policy for Tri-Valley law enforcement agencies, citing privacy reasons, unless and until criminal charges were to be filed in a traffic case.
Police said neither drugs nor alcohol appeared to have been factors based on the preliminary investigation, and the driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators that day. Knapp was wearing a helmet while riding.
"Our sincere thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Knapp's family and loved ones," San Ramon police Lt. Tami Williams said Thursday.
"The San Ramon Police Department's Traffic Unit is conducting a thorough investigation of this incident. Once our investigation is completed, the case will be reviewed by the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office," Williams added.
Knapp is survived by his wife Charlotte and daughters Jordan, Natalie and Camille.
A quarterback on the field at Huntington Beach High School and Sacramento State University, Knapp earned multiple invitations to NFL training camps as a player and a coaching intern while also coaching at Sac State.
He joined the NFL coaching ranks with the 49ers in 1995, rising to be their offensive coordinator from 2001 to 2003. He has also worked as offensive coordinator for the Raiders (two separate stints), Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. He also was part of the offensive staffs of the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos during his career.
Saleh, the former 49ers' defensive coordinator hired this offseason as Jets' head coach, brought Knapp on board to his new staff as passing game specialist in January.
"Greg had such an inner peace about him that people always seemed to gravitate towards," Saleh said in a statement Thursday. "He lived life in a loving way that helped him connect with people from all walks of life in a unique way. In his short time here, I believe the people in this organization had a chance to experience that connection."
Jets Chairman Woody Johnson added, "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. 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."
Countless current and former NFL players, coaches and media members have also offered condolences on social media and other channels since news of Knapp's death broke early Thursday afternoon.
"Those of us who were so blessed to have known him, know that he would have wanted even this moment to be a teachable one. So this is it … 'Live every day as if it's your last, and love those around you like it won't last!'" his family said in their statement, adding"
"While his family, friends and players still had so much to learn from him and desperately wished they had more time with him, God called an audible and wanted to go over the game plan directly with him. It will certainly be a masterpiece, just like Greg!"