The ink is barely dry on Chip Kelly’s new contract with the San Francisco 49ers and already the intrigue over the moves the new head coach will make with the team begins. While it was widely assumed that Kelly was brought in to rejuvenate the once great Colin Kapernick’s career, ESPN analyst Joe Banner is presenting an alternate scenario with Chip’s former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford.
No one talking about possibility that Chip cuts Colin Kaepernick & signs Bradford. Save money & get a guy he likes. Interesting possibility
— Joe Banner (@JoeBanner13) January 14, 2016
On the surface, this would seem to be a ludicrous move on the part of Kelly and San Francisco GM Trent Baalke. While the often injured Bradford did manage to remain relatively healthy all season — minus a shoulder scare and concussion that kept him out of two games this past year — Sam doesn’t seem to fit the mold of the type of quarterback needed to run Chip’s up-tempo system. Whereas Colin Kapernick, he has the speed and durability that seems like a perfect fit.
SB Nation seems to agree, claiming Kelly is the perfect hire to revive Colin Kapernick’s game to where it was just two seasons ago.
“The ‘Chip Kelly Offense’ is all about up-tempo offense, and he likes to use a running quarterback. While at Oregon, Kelly had Marcus Mariota, whose skill set is similar to Kapernick’s; Strong arm, capable thrower, and dangerous with his legs. Kaepernick isn’t a great quarterback. Great quarterbacks can maintain their play regardless of who they have around them. But when he has help, Kaepernick is capable of being a very good quarterback.”
Which makes the rumor of a Kapernick for Bradford swap all the more surprising.
Of course, anything to do with Chip Kelly isn’t a surprise to those around him. In his three seasons in Philadelphia, Chip dismantled the once talented roster, preferring to bring in guys he thought were best suited to his system. That meant jettisoning Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy in favor of free agent acquisition DeMarco Murray, a move that was highly questioned before the season even began and was ultimately proven to be a mistake.
Another move, or in this case non-move, was to let Jeremy Maclin walk to none other than the Andy Reid lead Kansas City Chiefs. Devoid of the same talent Kelly enjoyed in his first two seasons, the Eagles failed to reach the post season in an otherwise decrepit NFC East that saw 9-7 Washington eventually assume the crown in the division.
It also made Kelly’s immediate hiring in San Francisco a bit surprising considering Chip’s reputation among players started to erode as the season wore on. Of course, the 49ers went from Super Bowl contenders to also-rans in just one season after a front office battle with former head coach Jim Harbaugh resulted in the Harbaugh bolting to Michigan. This made ownership desperate to land an innovative thinker who could turn the club around after coach Jim Tomsula was let go after the season ended.
According to many pundits, the gamble is worth the risk, as USA Today points out.
“Kelly’s talent is worth saving, too. His missteps in Philly don’t erase the reality he’s a brilliant, innovative coach. And Kaepernick is a far better fit for Kelly’s up-tempo offense than anybody Kelly had with the Eagles, who won 10 games each of his first two seasons.”
What do yo think? Should Chip Kelly and the San Francisco 49ers ditch Colin Kapernick in favor of Sam Bradford?
[Sam Bradford photo by Elsa/Getty Images, Colin Kapernick photo by Michael B. Thomas]