When it comes to a 49ers-Chiefs Super Bowl, who’s the happiest guy in America? Outside of Joe Montana, it’s probably Jeff Christensen.
The longtime throwing coach, who runs the Throw It Deep Quarterback and Receiver Training Academy in Illinois, has a longtime working relationship with Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo: The two have been together since Garoppolo made the move from linebacker to quarterback as a teenager.
Christensen, who used the methods favored by Tom Brady’s former throwing guru Tom Martinez, hailed New England’s selection of Garoppolo in 2014. Just after Bill Belichick made the choice, Christensen was absolutely gobsmacked at the serendipity of it all.
But that’s only half the story. Recently, when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes needed some fine-tuning, he called Christensen, who was flown to Texas last offseason at Mahomes’ request after the Chiefs saw their season end at the hands of the Patriots.
The two spent time together working on footwork drills, something they continued to work on during the Chiefs’ bye week.
Christensen, who will be in Miami for Sunday’s Super Bowl, says that it’s the two quarterbacks who should get the credit for their success.
“We’re humbled to have played our small part in their success, but the credit really goes to them,” Christensen said. “There’s nothing glamorous about getting to the level they’ve achieved, it’s good old fashioned work. Day after day week after week year after year. It’s their work ethic that will continue to drive their success for years to come.”
Christiensen, who was a fifth-round pick of the Bengals in the 1983 draft, played in four games in the NFL with one touchdown and three interceptions, all while suiting up for eight different teams along the way.
But he’s found great success in the second act of his football life as a personal coach.
In what has almost become a requirement to quarterbacking success, many high-level signal-callers have employed personal coaches, who can offer a fresh set of eyes when it comes to footwork, technique, and other elements of the game.
Brady had Martinez, who he worked with from high school up through the pros, and after he passed, he started working with Tom House. Christensen, in addition to Garoppolo and Mahomes, has also worked with Ryan Tannehill and Kirk Cousins.
Now, Christensen will get a chance to see two of his favorites on the big stage. He admits to a dilemma when it comes to who to root for. But in the end, he’d probably be happy for either one of his guys to come away with a win.
“We’re incredibly proud of both guys, first and foremost — whether it be Jimmy, who we saw blossom from a young age or Patrick, who we’ve only spent a couple years with,” he said. “It will be hard to enjoy knowing one of them has to lose this game.”