Chip Kelly was formally introduced Wednesday as the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, and he wasted no time in making an immediate impact on the Bay Area media. This is no Jim Tomsula, Kelly was eloquent, articulate, and at some point during the press conference, forceful. The Faithful are bound to enjoy the decision, but, the media whom despised working alongside Jim Harbaugh might have their work cut out for them.
After the press conference ended, Kelly met privately with the media and answered some additional questions. Though he was fired by the Eagles about two weeks ago, it didn’t take long for him to find a new job, and there was no time wasted. He interviewed just one time with general manger Trent Baalke, he said during the media session. He understands the hiring process, but felt regardless there was chemistry between himself and Baalke.
“I don’t know if I was the first person they talked to. When you go into it, there’s going to be a group of guys,” Kelly said. “To me, I felt like we struck it off the first time we had a chance to visit each other.”
Kelly later said he was caught off guard when the Eagles fired him, he wasn’t expecting it, he said. He wouldn’t cite culture issues in Philadelphia, but instead said the lack of wins most likely contributed to sour feelings inside the locker room. He stormed out of the gate, capturing the NFC East title in his first season, but the momentum cooled, and his situation shifted dramatically, Kelly said. It wasn’t a good situation for anyone involved, but he doesn’t believe his coaching methods will vary now that he’s changed teams, he added. He has learned from the experience.
“I don’t know if I can be significantly different. I think you have to be yourself in terms of how you do things. But we all learn. I don’t think yourself, myself or anybody, you’re different than you were five years ago, ten years ago. I think we all grow and we’re all byproducts of our experiences.”
Currently, Kelly is in the process of hiring his coaching staff—the 49ers fired 10 assistants on Tuesday, and San Francisco remains without the services of an offensive or defensive coordinator. The only position Kelly has filled is that of the running backs coach—Tom Rathman will retain that role, Kelly said Rathman, in his opinion, is the best running backs coach in the NFL. Reports surfaced Wednesday afternoon from ESPN that an offer has been extended to Houston Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel for the defensive coordinator position.
At least three former assistants from his tenure in Philadelphia are expected to join Kelly in his new administration. Wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell, quarterbacks coach Ryan Day, and defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro have all reportedly committed to the team, but are yet to sign their contracts.
Perhaps attributed to his learning experience, Kelly wishes to hire an offensive coordinator who thinks in different ways than himself—specifically, he’s seeking a coordinator who can improve the 49ers’ rushing offense. Buffalo Bills assistant Anthony Lynn, and Detroit Lions assistant Curtis Modkins.
“I’m really looking for diversity, someone who comes from another system so we can continue to add and make what we do better,” Kelly said. “I think the collaboration when I went from Oregon to Philadelphia, to sit in a room with an offensive line coach from Alabama and Pat Shurmur, who was the head coach at Cleveland, Duce Staley, who coached at Philadelphia, and Bob Bicknell, who coached for the Buffalo Bills, and Justin Peelle, who played here (for the 49ers) and played in Atlanta, and all of together put together the Philadelphia Eagle’s offense.”
Barred from discussing football matters due to bylaws of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, Kelly has met this week with select players who are still in town. He’s met with both Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick, exchanged words with Joe Staley, and recently met with running back Carlos Hyde. Baalke revealed Wednesday that Hyde recently underwent surgery to repair a broken left foot, and said he should be rehabbed before the start of next season.
“Should be good to go,” Baalke said. “Once again, we’ll defer to the medical staff (but) his health looks good right now, he’s progressing well, he’s rehabbing hard and it’s something that if everything goes well it should clear up in time for the offseason program.”
The surgery was performed close to the end of the season, Baalke said.
Hyde got off to a fast start—he rushed for 168 yards and collected two touchdowns in the Monday Night Football season opening contest against the Minnesota Vikings, it would equate to the single 100-yard rushing performance for San Francisco the entire season. Just weeks later while on the road in New York, Hyde broke his foot. He made multiple attempts to play through the injury, but was ultimately placed on season-ending injured reserve. While Kelly is searching for the run-friendly coordinator, Baalke opined that Hyde was built for the style of offense the new coach is bringing to the team.
“If you look at what he did in the system he came out of at Ohio State — ran a lot of the same plays that coach (Kelly) runs and has run both at Philadelphia and at Oregon,” Baalke said.
Shortly after the press conference and meetings ended, San Francisco announced another addition to the team—a new wide receiver, Eric Rogers, the leading receiver from the Canadian Football League last season. The 49ers previously hosted Rogers for a workout last December, and must have liked what they saw. It’s a necessary move for the team, last year’s leading receiver, Anquan Boldin, is set to become a free agent, and could be departing. At six-foot-three, 210 pounds, Rogers bears several similarities to the receiver who was the most productive for Chip Kelly during his final season in Philadelphia—six-foot-three, 212 pound Jordan Matthews.
David Barclay is a 49ers Insider for byteclay.com. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @DJamesIII