One week after the San Francisco 49ers announced Chip Kelly would be the 19th head coach in franchise history, the 52-year-old had his introductory press conference Wednesday to address everything associated with his new job.
The new San Francisco brain trust took to the stage for a photo-op that fans hope will be a successful marriage, per Josh Paunil of Philadelphia Magazine:
Josh Paunil @JoshPaunil
The Niners seem to really love doing these photo ops. https://t.co/o9Qe3iliyw2016-1-20 19:40:52
Speaking first, per Jennifer Chan of NinersNation.com, 49ers CEO Jed York said Kelly's "vision was above the rest."
Following York's opening statements, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said the decision to hire Kelly was "easy," per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle:
Aaron Wilson @AaronWilson_NFL
Trent Baalke on Chip Kelly: 'At the end of the day, this was a fairly easy decision. He's a well-rounded, innovative coach'2016-1-20 19:03:02
Kelly was then introduced to the stage and endeared himself to fans in San Francisco by calling the 49ers "the pre-eminent franchise in football," and he said he was "struck by the synergy" in the building, per Around the NFL.
Taking a look back at his three-year run with the Philadelphia Eagles, per Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, Kelly admitted he's still going over what happened:
Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora
Kelly says had been self-scouting himself in Philly. "I'm in the middle of the autopsy right now," says of dissecting what went wrong in PHI2016-1-20 19:10:42
Per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, Kelly did say "many" of his former players in Philadelphia reached out to him by text after he was fired.
Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the first question Kelly took was about quarterback Colin Kaepernick:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
Chip Kelly gets a Colin Kaepernick question 1st: I've had a chance to meet Kap. … We have a lot of time. It's a process we'll go through…"2016-1-20 19:07:47
The second question Kelly was asked involved a report from Rapoport last week about trying to trade for Kaepernick while he was with the Eagles, per Mindi Bach of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area:
Mindi Bach @MBachNBCS
#49ers Chip Kelly on reports he wanted a trade for Kap:"I don’t know where that report came from but we were very happy with Sam in Philly."2016-1-20 19:09:54
Looking at San Francisco's quarterback situation, per the 49ers' official Twitter account, Kelly was high on Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert:
San Francisco 49ers @49ers
Kelly on #49ers QBs: "Obviously Kap is an extremely talented football player, but I was also impressed by how Blaine played this season."2016-1-20 19:32:43
Even though Kaepernick will be the big story for San Francisco moving forward, since his injury-protected contract doesn't become fully guaranteed until April 1, Kelly noted he has spoken with multiple players on the 49ers roster, including NaVorro Bowman, Joe Staley and Carlos Hyde, per Chan.
Taking a big-picture perspective of the 49ers current roster, Kelly said he would be withholding any judgment until he sees them in person because there's a different feel than watching them on film, per Chan.
There were questions about what took so long for the 49ers to have their press conference to introduce Kelly, which he said was the result of not having a change of clothes and his father's birthday last weekend, per Bob Grotz of the Delaware County Daily Times.
Kelly settled any debate over who will be calling the plays on offense, per Matt Maiocco of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area:
Matt Maiocco @MaioccoNBCS
New #49ers coach Chip Kelly: "I will be the guy on the sideline calling the plays."2016-1-20 19:31:48
In terms of working with Baalke to form a 53-man roster, Kelly had no problem ceding that power to San Francisco's general manager, per Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group:
Marcus Thompson @ThompsonScribe
"Trent has control of the 53. I'm comfortable with that. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't." - Kelly2016-1-20 19:32:43
That's a drastic change for Kelly, as Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted he got immediate roster control when the Eagles hired him.
Baalke discussed the process of being able to work with Kelly to bring the 49ers back into contention, per the team's official Twitter account:
San Francisco 49ers @49ers
Baalke on Kelly: "We share a very similar vision. We feel very good about the direction we're going and about working together."2016-1-20 19:14:28
On the subject of his expectations for next season, per La Canfora, Kelly said he was "not going to make any predictions, but the goal is to make playoffs every year."
Expanding on that thought, per La Canfora, he said he's excited "to be a part of" a 49ers team that is prepared well for the future. San Francisco is set up well in terms of cap space, with OverTheCap.com projecting the team to have $53.6 million in cap space for 2016 and $61.5 million for 2017.
Kelly's uptempo system has been scrutinized for the way it seems to force his defense on the field a lot, though he didn't seem concerned about criticisms of his style, per the 49ers' official Twitter account:
San Francisco 49ers @49ers
Chip Kelly: "I'm not governed by the fear of what other people say. You have to have belief and conviction in what you're doing."2016-1-20 19:29:41
It's been a rough two years for 49ers fans. Jim Harbaugh went to Michigan after the 2014 season, and the retirements of Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Justin Smith followed soon after.
The brief Jim Tomsula era turned into a disaster quickly, so the 49ers were right back where they started when the 2015 season ended.
Kelly has a lot of work ahead of him to get the 49ers back into the top tier of NFL teams, but his first day with the media was a rousing success. He seemed to understand where the roster is and what needs to happen for a quick turnaround.
It's just one day, but for the first time over the last 12 months, the 49ers feel like they are back on the right track.