Chip Kelly, San Francisco 49ers Success Depends on Dysfunctional Front Office

Chip Kelly

The San Francisco 49ers hired Chip Kelly possibly hoping he has learned from the mistakes that turned his Philadelphia Eagles stint into a nightmare and eventually a failure, but a lot of his potential success depends on his relationship with Jed York and Trent Baalke instead of his actual decisions regarding what happens on the field.

The 49ers hired Kelly on a four year deal worth $24 million, showing that getting fired in the NFL doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be a head coach right away. Kelly wasn’t looking for a quick return to College Football, realizing quickly that from the coaching vacancies scenario, it’s not going to be difficult for him staying in the NFL. That, and non of the attractive CFB jobs were available.

After coaches get fired a lot of poisons and things previously hidden under the surface come out. Once Kelly was ousted from his role as the HC in Philadelphia, the picture that was put together from words of his recently made former players was that of someone who took too much on himself and wouldn’t listen to anyone. Sounds a lot like Jim Harbaugh, who is the most successful 49ers coach since the mid 1990’s, but also someone who clashed too often with York and especially Baalke, which is why he got fired, making a return to college football and doing quite well on his first season with Michigan, his alma mater.

Instead of Harbaugh? Jim Tomsula, a previous defensive line coach, was hired. An odd choice, and one that seemed to be in line with the trending events of the franchise. Players retiring early left and right, and basically almost everyone who had a positive effect on the Niners from 2011 through 2014, was out of the picture. York and Baalke, described as incompetent, set up someone to fail with a team that had no chance of winning. On the way, it wasn’t just Tomsula lasting one season. Turns out Colin Kaepernick couldn’t stop the downward spiral of his career, losing his starting job and perhaps already playing his final game in 49ers uniform.

Kelly, an offensive minded coach which is what Baalke and York were looking for, has a lot of issues to deal with as he takes over the job. Not just a quarterback issue with Blaine Gabbert and a very expensive Kaepernick waiting to see what happens to him. The running back situation is terrible, and while the defense has some talent to work with, the 49ers look like more than one offseason of signings, trades and smart drafting before they can compete again in a difficult division.

But there’s more to what Kelly decides regarding players. It’s how much power he gets. Baalke likes to say there’s no iron fist with the 49ers, but why did Harbaugh get fired exactly? Kelly wanted more power in making personnel decisions in Philadelphia and got it. Turned out, that when he simply stuck to coaching and not playing general manager as well, he and the Eagles were better off.

There’s a lot that can go wrong for the 49ers with his new, risky hiring, but worse than last season is difficult to describe. And yet, if all three mentioned people haven’t learned from their past mistakes, this is just a failure waiting to happen, which is simply digging a deeper hole for a franchise that was in the right hands just over 12 months ago, but because of egos too huge to be contained began a painful to watch nosedive.

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