49ers hire Chip Kelly as next head coach: 5 things to know

The 49ers made a splash on Thursday afternoon, hiring Chip Kelly as their next head coach.

Owner Jed York announced the move on Twitter (of course he did), saying he and GM Trent Baalke are "thrilled" to hire Kelly as Jim Tomsula's replacement.

Here's five things to know about Kelly going to the 49ers.

1. What this means for Colin Kaepernick: This is the big question. Kaepernick theoretically fits Kelly’s style of play and offensive system as a dynamic athlete with great wheels. 

But he also DOESN’T fit Kelly’s system as a highly-cerebral quarterback capable of moving through his reads quickly. 

The best guess here is Kelly talked with York/Baalke about potentially resurrecting Kaepernick’s career and they decided he was more capable of making it work than just about anyone out there. Nick Foles threw for 27 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in a season under Kelly. He made Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford and an aging Michael Vick look good at times. 

Kaep isn’t that far removed from being one pass away from winning the Super Bowl and/or praised as a potential elite quarterback with unlimited upside.  

2. Back to the well: Kelly will be the 20th 49ers coach hired in franchise history and follows an interesting lineage in San Francisco. The last "splash" coach with a high-profile and college pedigree the 49ers hired was Jim Harbaugh. It didn't work out perfectly, with frustrations mounting between both parties before a separation following an 8-8 season in 2014. The 49ers promoted Jim Tomsula to head coach with spectacularly disastrous results — Tomsula was fired after a single 5-win year, getting a $15 million parachute on the way out of town. 

It’s entirely possible Kelly’s availability ushered in the Tomsula decision.

Kelly feels a lot like Harbaugh in terms of the hire. Huge name, fantastic results in college, headstrong, potential home run. The one difference is Kelly’s coming off a humbling year with the Eagles, getting fired after a 6-win season largely engineered after he played the role of GM.

3. Personnel power: Which means it’s not likely Kelly will have a lot of say in who ends up on the 49ers roster. It was well understood Baalke wanted to do the grocery shopping with the next coach doing the cooking; Kelly said after he was fired by the Eagles he’s a lot less interested in the GM side of things for his next gig.

It’s anticipated Kelly won’t have personnel power in San Francisco.

From that perspective it’s obviously a fit. But Kelly came to Philly with no real intentions on being the GM and being in charge of personnel. You have to wonder if eventually the two might butt heads a bit. 

4. Another high-profile gig: The prevailing theory with Kelly’s next job after a three-ring circus in Philly was he would seek somewhere with a little bit less attention paid to the matter of the head coach. (The Tennessee Titans with Marcus Mariota and limited aggression from the local media could’ve been a pretty solid fit.) 

The 49ers’ gig is not some casual spot. There’s intense scrutiny from the west-coast media and some scathing writers out there. It’s not Philly — and no one is saying Chip should run from the heat. It’s just surprising he’d take a high-profile gig after the way things went in Philly. 

Kelly and York are going to be VERY prominent in a month at Super Bowl 50, as the hosts of the event. 

5. How will the players handle it? One major issue with Kelly coming out of Philadelphia was his players’ response to his system. Kelly was a controlling coach who liked to use innovative methods of getting the most from his players.

Not everyone liked it! 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith, signed this past offseason to replace Michael Crabtree, said he “better start running.”

It’s probably a little humorous and a little sarcastic but doesn’t feel especially biting. For the offensive players in San Francisco, Kelly's acquisition should be a welcome opportunity to put up some big numbers. 

Chip Kelly is the next 49ers coach. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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