San Francisco 49ers owner/CEO Jed York announced Thursday that the 49ers have hired ex-Eagles coach Chip Kelly as the team’s new head coach after an extensive search that included meeting with Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson (now head coach of Cleveland), former New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, Buffalo Bills assistant head coach and running backs coach Anthony Lynn, Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, and even had discussions with former Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan. It was even reported earlier on the same day that the franchise had a heightened interest in Shanahan.
Kelly, 26-21 over the past three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, now steps into what may be the most difficult of the head coach openings to be immediately successful with the defenses he will have to face in the NFC West. With family back east, the announcement comes as a mild surprise that he chooses to return to the west coast (University of Oregon head coach 2009-2012). His perceived preference was reported to be the New York Giants.
The questions will now no doubt shift to the future of quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers will owe him approximately 12 million dollars if he is still on the roster April 1st. The recently-hired Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson is a fan and rumors link him to trying to obtain Colin as the organization distances itself from the circus that is Johnny Manziel. The Browns currently hold the second pick in the 2016 NFL draft and could deal that because they are in a better position to win now with a battle-tested quarterback rather than drafting a rookie QB to groom.
But speculation indicates that when Chip was weighing his coaching options, one of the factors was that he included the possibility of trading for Kaepernick. Now he doesn’t have to. Certainly, Kaep is the best fit so far for what Chip’s offensive scheme requires in a quarterback. It is reported that the 49ers news conference introducing Kelly as their new head coach will not be until next week. Interesting to see how he will respond to questions regarding Colin, and the changes he will probably have to make in a division with the Seahawks, Cardinals and Rams, where defenses are extremely strong and keeping them off the field with sustained drives is considered common sense…not to mention, questions regarding the relationship that will truly be in the spotlight between Chip and general manager Trent Baalke, who maintains personnel power.