SAN FRANCISCO — Stanford coach David Shaw uses the "Gannon drill" to improve a quarterback's presence in the pocket, an exercise that tests the player's ability to protect the ball and keep his eyes downfield while avoiding oncoming pass rushers.
Shaw saw the value of the drill during his time as an assistant coach with the Oakland Raiders and now utilizes it with the Cardinal.
Shaw has evolved into arguably one of the top coaches in college football, the leader of a Stanford team that is 41-12 during the past four years heading into Tuesday's Foster Farms Bowl against Maryland.
It's a rise for Shaw that has been aided by his time in the NFL, including as an assistant coach with the Ravens under Brian Billick from 2002 to 2005.
"That [Baltimore] stop for me was really a lot about understanding the business of football, as opposed to just X's and O's," Shaw said. "That's a really, really well-run organization, and I learned a lot from that."
A former Stanford wide receiver, the 42-year old Shaw's first coaching job was with Western Washington from 1995 to 1996 before he was hired as a quality control coach with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1997.
After one year with the Eagles, Shaw spent three seasons as a quality control coach with the Raiders and one as Oakland's quarterbacks coach before being hired by the Ravens.
Shaw was the Ravens' quarterbacks and wide receivers coach from 2002 2004 and then the wide receivers coach in 2005.
"Baltimore was huge for me, a couple guys in particular," Shaw said. "I thought Brian Billick did a phenomenal job handling the football side, not trying to do everything himself, but delegating some of the responsibilities but then taking on the mantle of everything else, football and nonfootball. I thought he was a great shield for the players, where he protected the players. Players loved playing for him because of that.
"I think [general manager] Ozzie Newsome is as good and has been as good as anybody as a general manager as far as the draft, as far as the acquisition of personnel, as far as putting the pieces of a team together, and I think [team president] Dick Cass is unreal at what he says … in terms of making sure the mode and mood of the organization stays consistent."
After leaving the Ravens, Shaw was an assistant coach under Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego for one year. He then became Stanford's offensive coordinator under Harbaugh in 2007 and took over as the Cardinal's coach when Harbaugh left for the NFL following the 2010 season.
Stanford finished each of Shaw's first three seasons as coach ranked 11th or better nationally and played in three straight Bowl Championship Series games, and Shaw was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year in 2011 and 2012.
While the Cardinal are a modest 7-5 heading into Tuesday's matchup with Maryland, three of the losses came by a three-point margin.
Stanford ended the regular season with a 31-10 road win over No. 8 UCLA
"He's a good guy, a good coach, well respected," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "You can see his teams are well-coached. I enjoyed being around him."
While Shaw has been rumored to be a candidate for more high-profile jobs, including in the NFL, the coach says he is committed to continue building his alma mater.
"I think it's just really cool that he went to school here and he's had so many opportunities to go elsewhere but that he really sees himself here and keeping Stanford great," Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan said. "He'll always share stories about Rich Gannon or guys that he's coached before, and he'll always pull you off to the side, no matter what position, and kind of give you some advice or some technique corrections, which is really nice."
At Stanford, Shaw has helped develop current NFL stars such as Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
"I love being a part of these young peoples' lives," Shaw said. "I love seeing the transformation, guys going from 16-, 17-year-old recruits to a 22-year old fifth-year senior and to be a part of that maturation process. … To be a part of these young guys' lives, that means more than football.
"I get notes from guys like Doug Baldwin, from Richard Sherman, from Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener and sometimes from their families, just Christmas notes that just say, 'Hey, coach, just thinking about you.' Those don't happen in the NFL, but they happen in college, and they make all the work that we do worth the while."