Chip Kelly's introductory press conference came nearly a week after Kelly was announced as the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Kelly talked about Colin Kaepernick, building his staff, and he addressed Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie's comments about Kelly's emotional intelligence. Kelly also discussed his vision for the Niners and the fact that he is content without the level of roster control he had in his final year in Philadelphia.
1. Colin Kaepernick may have a future in San Francisco
Prior to Kelly's hiring, Blaine Gabbert, as well as a handful of other players, there have been no discussions with players about football. Kelly said he was focused on building the coaching staff, and that the staff would work together to evaluate player personnel already on the roster.future with the Niners seemed uncertain, but Kaepernick is a good fit with the zone read offense Kelly prefers. Kelly made it clear that, while he has met both Kaepernick and
Kelly denied the rumor that he had interest in trading for Kaepernick last season, though he respects Kaepernick's abilities.
"I don't know where that report came from, but we were very happy with Sam in Philly," Kelly said. "In terms of Kap, he was very difficult for us to play against two years ago."
Kelly said he has not yet begun the process of watching tape of Kaepernick from the 2015 season. Kelly also said he won't be discussing anything related to football with players prior to April 4, per league rule, even if players ask him to do so.
"I would tell [them] I can't because there are rules that we're governed by," Kelly said.
2. Kelly will be calling plays for the Niners this season
Kelly was quick to correct a reporter who asked about the viability of the read option offense at the pro level.
"The read option has never been run here," Kelly said. "It's a zone read, first off."
Cam Newton and Russell Wilson were mentioned by name by Kelly as players who are running the zone read offense with great success. Kelly said it just depends on having the correct personnel to run it effectively.
Kelly did confirm that he would be calling the plays from the sidelines, though he joked that he would call the good plays and the offensive coordinator would call the bad plays.
3. He doesn't think his emotional intelligence is a problem
Despite the unflattering implication of Lurie's comments about Kelly's level of emotional intelligence, Kelly seemed unperturbed by it. Kelly pointed to the outpouring of support he received from players after news broke that he had been fired by the Eagles, as well as the support he received from other coaches and former coaches, like Bill Belichick, Tony Dungy and Bill Parcells.
Kelly said, however, that there were lessons learned in Philadelphia.
"I think you always can apply what you learned from your experience," Kelly said. As part of that process, he's doing some self-scouting from last season, and he called it an "autopsy," since he lost his job.
4. Building his staff
Kelly did confirm that running backs coach Tom Rathman will remain on staff, calling him "the best running backs coach in the NFL." Kelly said that they have been interviewing prospective coaches and hope to have the staff fully assembled within a week or so. At that time, the new staff will begin assessing player personnel.
5. He's a "football guy"
Kelly said several times throughout the press conference that he sees himself as "a football guy." When asked to define what it means to be a football guy and whether there's a level of obsession that goes along with that, Kelly seemed to prefer to his feelings around the game as passionate.
"I don't know where the borderline crazy and that part comes in, but I have a passion for football," Kelly said.
Kelly's performance as a head coach with the Eagles wasn't the problem. It was the way things shifted for the worse after Kelly assumed control of personnel decisions in Philadelphia that sealed his fate. Kelly said he is confident in the direction of the 49ers and that he's comfortable without control over personnel decisions.
"I want to just coach football," Kelly said, adding that he's excited about working with GM Trent Baalke and others who are making the personnel decisions in San Francisco, citing the roster they've built and the draft picks they currently hold, including 12 for the 2016 NFL Draft. "They're prepared for the future, and it's an exciting time to be a part of that."
Since personnel control derailed Kelly in Philadelphia, it's an encouraging start to his tenure in San Francisco.
Kelly was fired as head coach of thefollowing a Week 16 38-24 home loss to Washington in primetime. Lurie alluded to a perceived lack of emotional intelligence as part of the reason Philadelphia chose to part ways with Kelly despite the Eagles finishing 10-6 in each of his first two seasons.
He assumes control of a Niners team that finished the 2015 season 5-11 after making three consecutive NFC Championship appearances in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The Niners represented the NFC in the Super Bowl following the 2012 season.