When Colorado head football coach Karl Dorrell hired Taylor Embree last spring, he knew he was adding a rising, young coach to the staff.
Getting Embree to Boulder was easier than keeping him in Boulder, however.
Multiple BuffZone.com sources have confirmed a report that Embree, the Buffaloes’ tight ends coach, is leaving the program to return to the National Football League, as running backs coach with the New York Jets. On Tuesday, Peter Schrager of Fox Sports was first to report Embree’s move to the Jets.
Last week, the Jets hired former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as head coach. Several news outlets have reported that Mike LaFleur, the 49ers’ passing game coordinator, will be Saleh’s offensive coordinator. Prior to coming to CU a year ago, Embree was an offensive quality control coach for the 49ers for three years, where he worked with Saleh and LaFleur.
With the 49ers, Embree, 32, worked under his father, Jon Embree, who is San Francisco’s tight ends coach – and a former CU player, assistant coach and head coach.
“Taylor is a promising young coach,” Dorrell said in March when he hired Embree. “A player I recruited to UCLA, and had a productive career. He was always interested in coaching like his father, and he’s learned the trade via the NFL.”
Embree helped the 49ers reach Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2, 2020, and after learning under his father, LaFleur and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, he was offered his first full-time position coach job last year by Dorrell.
“This is a unique opportunity because this is home for me and there’s a lot of pride and a lot of tradition,” Taylor Embree, who grew up in Denver before playing at UCLA, said last summer. “I’m familiar with CU. There’s not a place I’d rather start my coaching career than here.”
Embree credits his time with the 49ers for laying the foundation for his coaching career.
“Working with my dad and Kyle, those are years that will stick with me forever,” he said last year. “They both taught me things that will become the base for me as a coach the rest of my career.”
Now, Embree will rejoin some of the coaches he worked with in San Francisco. In addition to Saleh and LaFleur, it’s been reported that the Jets will hire 49ers offensive line coach John Benton for that role in New York. Benton, from Durango, is a former player and assistant coach at Colorado State. Benton also worked with Dorrell for two years (2012-13) with the Houston Texans.
During his one season at CU, Embree coached a tight ends group that was depleted by injuries.
Starter Brady Russell caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown in the season opener, but was injured five plays into the second game and missed the rest of the season. The other four scholarship tight ends were either injured or developing true freshmen who didn’t see the field.
With Russell out, CU leaned on walk-ons Matt Lynch (who missed one game due to injury) and CJ Schmanski. They also used walk-on Nico Magri, a converted defensive lineman, and moved linebacker Alec Pell to tight end during the season.
“He is a hell of a coach,” Schmanski said of Embree. “He’s probably one of the smartest guys I’ve ever been coached by in any sport. … It’s crazy how much he knows, crazy how much he can take from (film) and just relay to us in a simpler way to get us to understand it. It’s amazing. He’s hands probably the best coach I’ve ever had.”
Embree was also making his mark on the recruiting trail. He helped CU sign Heritage High School star Erik Olsen to a national letter of intent last month. A four-star recruit, Olsen was the highest-rated player in CU’s 2021 class.
This week, Carsen Ryan, a four-star recruit for the 2022 class from Timpview (Utah) High School, listed CU among his top six schools.
Embree had an annual salary of $200,000 with the Buffs. He leaves CU with one year remaining on the two-year deal he signed a year ago. Per the terms of the deal, he would owe CU $50,000 for terminating the contract early.