Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports


Mark Helfrich wanted Chip Kelly to return to Oregon to save his staff

Dec 2, 2016 at 3:16 PM--


San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly said this week that he will not be the new head coach at the University of Oregon. On Tuesday, the college fired head coach Mark Helfrich after four seasons. Kelly said that he has not spoken to the college but had spoken to Helfrich, who remains a good friend, following the firing.

Helfrich joined ESPN Radio's Russillo and Kanell in his first public interview since being fired and offered some insight into the conversation between Kelly and himself. "I had some of those conversations with him a couple weeks ago when it looked like this was going south," Helfrich said. "That was a very awkward conversation, but just wanted to let him know to take our personal relationship out of it in every shape and form if he wanted to consider this. But me, reading between the lines, I think he wants to make it right in the NFL. I think he wants to win at that level. He's had a rough go of it this year, but he'll get it right."

If fact, the former Oregon coach was pretty selfless (even though he describes it as selfish) and may have even hinted that perhaps Kelly should take the job. "It was probably more selfishly than anything," Helfrich said regarding his reason to speak to Kelly this week. "When you start thinking about your assistants and your support staff, if [Kelly] were to come back, some of those people would be saved…Just trying to take our personal relationship out of it, remove me from the equation, and let him think of it that way."

Kelly spoke of that Oregon staff earlier this week while the 49ers practiced at the University of Central Florida prior to their game on Sunday against the Bears in Chicago. "I just felt bad for Mark," Kelly told the media. "I love him like a brother. He's a tremendous person. He's a hell of a football coach but he's an even better person. So, I just felt for him and the rest of the guys on that staff. It's an unfortunate thing that goes on in this profession."

Earlier during the ESPN Radio interview with Helfrich, it was suggested that Kelly hated the college recruiting process. "That's a fact," Helfrich said. "Don't know if he hated recruiting, but disliked. Strong dislike."

That is just one reason that suggests that Kelly would prefer to avoid a return to the college ranks. In fact, Kelly has repeatedly insisted that he wants to remain in the NFL and has even become annoyed at the repeated questions about a possible return to college coaching.

Aaron J. Fentress of CSN Northwest suggests that Kelly would have to have no other options available to him in order to return to the University of Oregon. He says that, according to multiple sources, it is not happening.


"I haven't talked to a college since I've been in the NFL and it's not my goal," Kelly said back on November 7. "My goal is to be the head coach of the 49ers and that's what I want to do so I don't know why...it surprises me that that continues to be a news story. It's been the same story since I left four years ago. I'm not looking to go back and that's what I've always said so I don't know why it's still a story."

Kelly was hired as the 49ers head coach in January following three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Since then, he has led the team to a 1-10 record and lost 10 straight games after the 49ers' opening week win over the Los Angeles Rams. The 10 straight losses are a franchise record.

You can listen to the entire interview on ESPN Radio.

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