49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

August 17, 2011
McCown: Relationship with Chryst brought him to SF

Josh McCown barely had been in California 11 hours Wednesday when he found himself in a 49ers uniform, taking snaps and firing footballs downfield. McCown threw a surprising number of passes for someone who had been coaching high school football in North Carolina a day earlier, and as you would expect, not every pass was on target. He was picked off twice by safety Dashon Goldson, but also hit wideout Kevin Jurovich with a nice pass on a slant pattern.

Here's McCown talking about his background with quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst, his admiration for Jim Harbaugh and his role with the 49ers:


On stepping off the plane and getting thrown into practice:"Yeah, it was fun. It was fun. Why not? I mean everybody - it's indicative of their whole team, I'm sure. They're just learning on the fly with the CBA stuff. And it's not different for me. So I'll just get in there are learn on the fly and do the best I can."

Will the offense be easy for you to pick up?
"I've been around a lot of places, so I've had some sort of this terminology. But it's different for me than most of the stuff I've done. The concepts are the same, it's just what you call it. So I'm grinding away at that and making sure I get those things down."

On how he ended up with the 49ers:
"I have a relationship with Geep Chryst, the quarterbacks coach, because he drafted me in Arizona. So way back in like January we talked and said, hey it would be fun to hook up again iof it works out. And I just kind of kept working out and staying ready and eventually started to pursue high school coaching in North Carolina. I was enjoying that, and this door was opened. So I'm excited about that."

Did he take a redeye flight?
"You could call it that. By the time I got here you would have called it a redeye. I left at, I think, 7 (pm) Charlotte, an hour and a half up to Chicago and had a two-hour layover there. Flew 4:15 minutes and got here and got to the hotel about 3 o'clock in the morning. So took a nap, got up, worked out and signed the thing and came out to practice. And I'm excited. That works for me?"

What are his expectations with the 49ers?
"I'm expecting just to come in here, work hard, to help these guys having done this for 10 years. Trying to help these guys and support Alex and Kap and Mac and Jeremiah and help these guys get better. And myself - a chance to work with Geep again and a chance to work with someone like coach Harbaugh, which really excites me. Because I don't care what stage of your career you're in, you always want to get better. And so for me, to be around coach Harbaugh and to see him working with these quarterbacks and to be coached by a guy like that who's played the position and played at a high level is exciting. It's neat just to sit back and see him coach the other guys, much less myself. And I was very appreciative of the chance to be out here because I feel like whenever it is that I walk away from the game I will be better as a player."

On Harbaugh coaching his footwork at the start of practice:
"Yes, he does a good job with that, just showing some things. There's a way that you do it that helps you be successful and, you know, he's going to impart that to us. So I can tell Alex and them have been learning that, and so I just try to hop right in and catch up to speed."

Are you at a different stage now then you were with the Raiders?
"Absolutely. Well, I'll say this: First of all, I'm a competitor. I love to compete. And I think the older you get, the more you want to compete. So I'll say I'm looking to compete whether it's in practice of a game. I'm looking to compete. And then past that, just looking to continue to get better. Tomorrow's not promised. So I'm just trying to enjoy today and be the best I can be today. So that's what I want to get out of it: Every day, try to get better. And I feel I'm in a place with coach Harbaugh, with Geep where I can do that."

What was the UFL like?
"It was a great experience. It was, you know, different. Competition was certainly a lot better than people would have thought. I had a good time. It was a chance for me to continue to play, and play games. I'm further along now than I would have been if I sat on a roster last year as a backup, because I played eight games. When you're taking snaps, and I think this is true for me and everybody, you're getting better when you're taking reps. So I really valued that. What my agent and I were looking at going in was a chance to play because I had sat there the two years behind Jake in Carolina. Having gone that long without playing, having been a starter and a backup, then going that whole last year on IR and sitting, it was frustrating. You just want to get back and play."

Why were you on IR?
"A sprained knee and foot. It was kind of a bummer. It happened in the first game. But the UFL provided me an opportunity to get back out there and play and work out the kinks."

Given your background with Geep, had you been following the 49ers and their search for a QB?
"I was, (a), because I was rooting for Geep. First impressions are always huge and Jeep was my first impression of the NFL. He and I have always been close ever since. I know how passionate he is about coaching the quarterback and offensive football. I was excited for him to get back to that. I knew about his relationship with coach Harbaugh, so I was excited also for him to be in that realm. I was following just from a friendship standpoint, but I also knew there was a situation where a door could get opened. But you never know with timing and everything what is going to happen. I was just rooting for him to do well, rooting for coach Harbaugh and what they've done at Stanford, with that kid, and so I'm a fan of quarterbacks and coaches. I would have been watching no matter what they did because I appreciated what they did at the college ranks."

If this opportunity didn't come up, would you have gone back to the UFL or been a high school coach?
"No, I kind of rested and had a peace about it, that I wasn't going back to the UFL. I did what I wanted to do. I had an opportunity right before I went to the UFL to go to Chicago. But I wanted to play and I had given the UFL my word that I would go. I got what I wanted out of it, which was to play and get reps. Through a lot of prayer and thought, I had peace of saying I'm going to move on from the UFL and hope something opens up in the NFL."

Did you workout before you signed?
"This morning."

When did you get into coaching high school coaching and where?
"I helped out a little bit last year. It's Marvin Ridge High School in Waxhaw, North Carolina, a suburb of Charlotte. I kind of helped a little bit, worked with the quarterbacks. When you're sitting there every day waiting for the phone to ring, you want something else to do. It's different for me. I didn't know it was available, because where I grew up in Texas, every coach was as a teacher and works in the school. That's the only way you can coach. But there (in N.C.) you can volunteer. At any rate, they said you could volunteer and be a full-time coach. I got excited about that, embraced that and was coaching quarterbacks from seventh grade all the way up to the varsity. I was having a blast doing it. That was fun. It keeps me around the game you're throwing the ball everyday and having fun with the kids and kind of giving back with what you've done."

When did you coach last?
"The day before we were coaching all day, having a blast."

Got call from 49ers?
"That evening."

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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