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Is Chip Kelly the Right Hire in San Francisco?

Chip Kelly San Francisco

It was just last year that the San Francisco 49ers were in the headlines because of a coaching move — as the team cut its ties with Jim Harbaugh, who had led the 49ers deep into the playoffs, including a berth in a Super Bowl, a moment that had rattled the lines of most page online betting sites. Jim Harbaugh had developed a sour relationship with Jed York and the rest of the front office, so the Niners brought in the absolutely underwhelming Jim Tomsula, a defensive line who would be a good company man but would be an absolute disaster in leading the team.

Now the my company 49ers are making another big move, bringing in Chip Kelly, whom the Philadelphia Eagles just fired. So in the space of about twelve months, the team has gotten rid of one offensive genius with an abrasive personality and brought in another one to save the team’s fortunes. Is this the right move?

Well, that answer depends on a couple of things. If Kelly can resurrect the fortunes of Colin Kaepernick, who went from guiding the Nevada Wolfpack in college to a Super Bowl after dislodging Alex Smith from the San Francisco quarterback position to sitting on the bench behind Blaine Gabbert, of all people, then he will be a success. He will also have to learn from the things that motivated the Eagles to send him packing — without having gone through much time to consider what happened in his tenure there.

Chip Kelly continued

There are a lot of people in the NFL who think that it’s ridiculous how much credit Kelly gets for being an “innovator” in the sport, when he’s not doing much differently from what people around the league are trying with a lot less fanfare. However, most people do agree that there are few coaches with Kelly’s potential to show the best of a player like Kaepernick, given the attributes of his system. Kaepernick is finishing his sixth season in the NFL, and he has gone through operations on his knee, thumb and shoulder since he got shut down in November, but physically, he is the most versatile and talented quarterback that Kelly has had in the NFL — so far, he’s been able to work with Nick Foles, Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez and Michael Vick. It’s likely that the 49ers’ ownership wanted their new coach to have a plan in the interview for the best way to resurrect Kaepernick, as he is under contract through 2020.

The Eagles’ owner, Jeffrey Lurie, said that the team’s next coach would have “emotional intelligence,” a dig at Kelly’s inability to deal with players who are grown adults rather than college students, to deal with a press and public that want some humility when the team isn’t doing so well, and a system with longer seasons, smaller rosters and older players — a difficulty given how swift his practices go. Kelly won’t have roster control, which he was given before the 2015 season in Philadelphia, but that could be a good thing, as Kelly appears to be much better coaching than cobbling together a roster.

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