Chip Kelly and the 49ers Is a Match Made in…Football Purgatory

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So the San Francisco 49ers went and got themselves a coach. An offensive-minded coach, a one-time college coach who has seen NFL success, a sort of prickly and eccentric coach who lives and breathes football. Oh no, not him. He’s not coming back. I’m talking about none other than Chip Kelly, the much-maligned former coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, less than three weeks ago, he was their head coach. But no more, for now he’s ours. And I, for one, am pretty excited about it.

Kelly was wildly successful as the Oregon coach, going 46-7 from 2007-2012. But what got lost in this year’s melee in Philadelphia is the fact the Chip Kelly the coach did well there too. It was Chip Kelly the personnel guy that was a disaster. When Kelly took over at the helm of the Eagles, the team was coming off a 4-12 season – that’s even worse than the 49ers’ 5-11 season. He then led the team to consecutive 10-6 seasons – I would be thrilled if San Francisco went 10-6 next year – and he did so with the likes Nick Foles, Mike Vick, Mark Sanchez, and Sam Bradford at quarterback. That’s no easy feat. If Chip decides he wants Colin Kaepernick, and it sounds like he might, Kap is probably the most talented QB he’ll have worked with in the pros.

Chip Kelly and the 49ers Is a Match Made in…Football Purgatory

With or without Kaepernick, Kelly has the opportunity to shape young talent and whip this team into shape, literally. And this team needs that desperately. Kelly is notorious for his intense conditioning and post practice smoothies for his players. San Francisco WR Torrey Smith tweeted this after Kelly was hired:

Start moving Torrey. Chip’s tough, no doubt about it, but hopefully he’s learned something from his time in Philly. There’s tough and then there’s crazy, and there is a happy medium. You are a coach, you’re not a buddy, but again, there is a happy medium. His fast-paced offense has its place and can be effective, but not if your defense ends up with five total minutes of rest in an entire game (I’m exaggerating but you get my point).

Chip Kelly and the 49ers Is a Match Made in…Football Purgatory

He’s doesn’t want personnel control – thank goodness – so that will stay with 49ers’ GM Trent Baalke. Kelly has a good relationship with Niners’ Senior Personnel Executive Tom Gamble from his Philly days, so Gamble should be a good buffer if Baalke and Kelly ever have a disagreement, of which they’ll probably have a million.

Let’s see how this goes. Kelly is a talented coach and I want to believe that both Kelly and the Niners front office have learned from past mistakes. Time will tell on all, but one thing is for sure, we’re not in khakiland anymore. Sit back and enjoy a smoothie; because with the 49ers, win or lose, it’s always a bumpy ride.

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Tracy Sandler

Bleeding gold and staying Niner faithful, I bring you the latest news features & commentary on my beloved San Francisco 49ers.

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