Around this time a year ago, newly hired head coach Jim Tomsula fumbled his way alongside San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke through an awkward introductory press conference. Chip Kelly's introductory press conference today was the exact opposite. He spoke clearly, was humorous at times, and showed a genuine understanding of the game of football. At one point, he even tossed out some NFL statistics that would have made Paraag Marathe proud. Unlike a year ago, it was a fantastic showing by a new 49ers head coach.
York was the first to take to the podium. "We have been working tirelessly to get the 49ers back to championship form," he expressed while thanking Baalke for leading such a great search for a new head coach. York stated that Kelly's vision was the best among the candidates that they spoke to. "It was the best fit for the 49ers," he said.
After the relatively short statements by York and Baalke, Kelly stepped up to the podium to speak to the media and then sat down alongside Trent Baalke to answer questions. York took a seat among the audience.
Kelly stated that he was humbled to be the 49ers new head coach and described the organization as "second to none." When talking about the management and personnel, he said, "Everyone is on a quest to win a Super Bowl." Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles visited Levi's Stadium on September 28 in 2014. He stated that during that visit, he was struck by the great fan base in San Francisco.
49ers Head Coach Chip Kelly Full Press Conference
While answering questions about the quarterback position, Kelly stated that it, like all positions on the team, was an ongoing process of evaluation. He has met with former starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but due to league regulations was unable to talk football with him. A report yesterday by Mindi Bach of CSN Bay Area stated that the conversation between the two focused around Kaepernick's recovery from surgeries to his left shoulder, left knee and right thumb.
"I'm going to wait until [April] 4th to talk football with Colin," Kelly added.
Kelly also briefly met with Blaine Gabbert over the past week, who finished the season as the 49ers' starter in 2015. He said that both Kaepernick and Gabbert made the 49ers an attractive situation. "Obviously Kap is an extremely talented football player." However, he was also impressed with how Gabbert played in 2015. When Baalke was asked about the looming April 1 contract deadline for Kaepernick, he simply stated that everything is under evaluation. "We're going to take a hard look at this roster," he answered.
Baalke will have control of that 53-man roster and Kelly said that he is comfortable with that. "I wouldn't be here if I wasn't," he said.
So why did it take nearly a week to hold this introductory press conference? One of the main reasons was that Kelly wanted to attend his father's 87th birthday in New Hampshire on Saturday. He also flew out to Santa Clara quickly when he got the call and was not prepared to address the media yet. He didn't even have a change of clothes.
There has been a lot of criticism from his former players in Philadelphia, but Kelly stated, "I feel very comfortable with my relationship with my players there." He stated that many Eagles players reached out to him via text message when he was fired from Philadelphia.
In response to a question asking his thoughts on what happened with former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and the situation around the team getting rid of such a successful coach, he said, "I'm a big Jim Harbaugh fan." Kelly knows how short an NFL head coaching job can be. "We rent our locker spaces," he said. Kelly stated that you need to worry about what's going on today, not whether you will be here next year. He continued by saying that if you worry about that, you probably won't be around.
Kelly certainly displayed that "smartest guy in the room" vibe during presser. Litttttle different than last year's coach introduction #49wz— Brandon Graham (@Brando_Graham) January 20, 2016
Kelly's focus is on short term goals and he would not make any predictions on the 2016 season or the team making the playoffs.
As far as his coaching staff is concerned, that is an ongoing process. The only person that he confirmed would be on that staff is 49ers running backs coach Tom Rathman. Kelly even called him the best running backs coach in the league, which many would have a hard time arguing with. "It was very important to me to keep Tom here," Kelly stated and went on to say that the team hopes to have everything concerning the coaching staff wrapped up by next week.
What will Kelly's offense look like? Will it resemble his uptempo offense in Philadelphia? "We're receptive to anything that's going to help us win football games," Kelly answered. He said that it would look similar to the Eagles over the past three seasons, but that they are always asking themselves, "How do we do it better than we have ever done it before?"
Will he be calling those offensive plays himself? "I'm going to call the good plays and I'm going to have the offensive coordinator call the bad ones," Kelly joked. However, he did say that he would be "the guy on the sideline calling the plays."
Chip Kelly said he's a base 3-4 defense guy, and that's how Trent Baalke has built the 49ers' roster. So they won't be switching.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) January 20, 2016
"I'm a football guy," Kelly said. He doesn't try to micromanage his coaching staff. He's not going to be in individual position meeting rooms. He will let the coaches do their jobs. Were some of the things, like reported urine tests, a bit over the top in Philadelphia? "We're just trying to prepare our players so they can be their best on game day," Kelly answered while continuing to say that the urine tests were simply to make sure his players were hydrated.
Kelly's defenses have been on the field a lot, mostly due to his offenses' fast tempo. Is that a concern? He said that he wants players that want to play and not ones that worry about how long they are on the field.
49ers players have had a lot of trouble with the law in recent years. Kelly addressed that a bit during his conference saying, "I believe it's a privilege to play in the National Football League … Your actions off the field will affect you on the field."
"The only person we offered the job to was Chip," said York following the press conference.