The San Francisco 49ers have two temporary additions to their coaching staff this summer. As part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship, the 49ers welcomed "QB guru" George Whitfield, and former NFL offensive lineman Bob Whitfield (no known relation) for a summer-long internship. The two coaches are working with the team at OTAs, and will be attending both the mandatory minicamp next week, and training camp in August. The program technically extends into the preseason games, but I am not clear if either will stay for the entire preseason.
Earlier this year, I wrote about Colin Kaepernick and referenced the minority coaching fellowship program instituted by 49ers legend, Bill Walsh. As you may recall, Walsh worked in the NFL for years and knew the effects of institutional prejudice within the NFL. The NFL is a very exclusive industry, so jobs within the NFL are largely based on who you know. This is especially true for coaches, assistant coaches and office personnel.
Just like any institution, the NFL did not necessarily experience overt discrimination when it came to hiring coaching staff and/or office personnel. However, Walsh knew minorities had a difficult time getting experience within the NFL. Minority coaches were not given the chance to even interview or discuss their qualifications, simply because they did not know anyone.
For this reason, Walsh formed the Minority Coaching Fellowship program. The NFL followed the program instituted by Walsh and the San Francisco 49ers. Today, the fellowship gives minority coaches education as to the full scope of being an NFL coach. It allows participants to experience all aspects of being an NFL coach, from administrative duties, to film and player evaluations. It was eventually adopted league-wide and over the years has produced some of the most accomplished coaches in the game. All 32 clubs participate in the fellowship.
It is an exciting opportunity to see George Whitfield train with the 49ers. In the way of background, Whitfield has spent a significant amount of time working with coaches at the collegiate level in an effort to gain an understanding of the college quarterback and what most are learning. He now runs a quarterback academy in San Diego, California. His training is unconventional, but he developed a curriculum aimed at developing quarterback techniques and attempting to harness athleticism we see in some of the star quarterbacks at the collegiate level.
Since 2007, Whitfield has been able to work with athletes at the NFL level. The fact he is able to participate in vocational program through the Minority Coaching Fellowship will be mutually beneficial. He is able to get hands-on experience within the NFL and at the same time, bring a new understanding of the athletic college quarterback to the 49ers organization.
George Whitfield's name is one of the most recognized in the quarterback world. He has trained with Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Johnny Manziel to name a few. Considering the 49ers have one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the NFL, some of Whitfield's unorthodox techniques could tighten up the fundamentals of our quarterbacks. It is an exciting possibility.
According to Matt Maiocco, Whitfield will work closely with Harbaugh, quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst and offensive coordinator Greg Roman during his internship. He spent time on Tuesday working with some of the 49ers' backup quarterbacks.
"There's no carte blanche, but we agree on a lot of things," Harbaugh said. "Haven't found anything we disagree on. So it's not like we've turned our quarterbacks over to George, but he's going to augment and assist and I think it'll be beneficial for us, beneficial for him and should be a win-win. Always looking for that."
It looks like Whitfield is also excited about the opportunity. He has taken to Twitter about why he is interning with the 49ers.
Bob Whitfield, a former NFL offensive lineman with 15 seasons under his belt is also participating in the fellowship. According to reports, he led a drill for offensive linemen during yesterday's practice.
Clearly, both interns are seeking to learn from the one of the top-notch organizations in the league. We look forward to hearing more about their progress with the 49ers and we will continue to monitor their NFL contributions in the future. It is exciting both have that opportunity due to the rich sports legacy left by Bill Walsh.