Two teams with a connection through a head coach are the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. Both teams are heading into the signing period and later the draft with questions at quarterback, not knowing if Sam Bradford and Colin Kaepernick are still the players for them.
The connection, of course, is Chip Kelly, who got criticized by fresh Super Bowl champion Evan Mathis this week, who said one of Kelly’s biggest problems in Philadelphia was his inability to get personal relations right, struggling to handle big egos and personalities, and also said that the Denver Broncos would have eaten him alive if he had coached there. It’s not surprising when it’s criticism about a coach coming out of college, and Nick Saban reportedly had the same problem with the Miami Dolphins.
But back to less gossipy stuff, Kelly has a decision to make about Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick wasn’t happy about how things turned out last season, losing his starting role to Blaine Gabbert although there were also injury issues he dealt with during the season. Kaepernick completed just 59% of his passes last season while posting a 78.5 passer rating, and may have demanded a trade from the 49ers. The big issue with him is the cap hit, which turns into a guaranteed $11.9 million salary and $15.9 million cap hit by April 1, unless he’s traded or released (saves almost $9 million on the cap, comes with $7.37 million of dead money). The 49ers should still have around $50 million in cap space next season, so at least for 2016, it isn’t that big of an issue.
But they do need to figure out their quarterback situation, and there’s going to be a meeting with Kaepernick’s reps during the combine in order to figure out where things stand. Some think that Kelly can do wonders for a mobile quarterback like Kaepernick, but the offensive genius flair is wearing off of Kelly as years go by, and the regression of Kaepernick in the last two seasons might be signaling there’s not really anything to work with anymore.
For the Eagles, the situation is more about pursuing Sam Bradford or not. The new head coach, Doug Pederson (replacing Kelly after three seasons) has said a number of times he’s interested in working with Bradford, so it becomes a money thing. Bradford, through some ups and downs, had a good season in Philadelphia, completing 65% of his passes, throwing 19 touchdown passes to 14 interceptions and finishing strong in the final two months.
Pederson has said he believes drafting a quarterback should mean the guy sits one year behind someone with experience, like Bradford, so he can learn. But if Bradford isn’t signed for asking too much? Chase Daniel is a free agent and a number of teams might see him as starter material. Pederson worked with him in Kansas City and with Mark Sanchez on his way out from Philadelphia, that eventually could be the direction the Eagles go with.