The San Francisco 49ers are rumored to be shifting course on Colin Kaepernick, with new head coach Chip Kelly reportedly planning to save the signal caller from the scrap heap and possibly making him the franchise quarterback once again.
Kelly was announced as the 49ers new coach this week, signing a four-year deal reportedly worth $24 million. Despite a disappointing tenure in Philadelphia, Kelly was still very much in demand for NFL vacancies.
San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke were “veteran coach with a big name and clear vision,” ESPN reported. In a statement after the hiring was announced, Baalke said Kelly had a proven track record of innovation and was an “extremely driven individual.”
Kelly was enthusiastic as well.
“As one of the most historic franchises in the National Football League, I realize the high standards and expectations that this position demands and I embrace the challenges ahead,” Kelly said in a statement. “My immediate focus is to build the best coaching staff possible, one that will maximize the abilities of each of our players and put us in the best position to win football games.”
There are already rumors that the San Francisco 49ers are changing course on Colin Kaepernick, who was benched this season in favor of Blaine Gabbert. After leading the team to the NFC championship game in his first year as full-time starter and the Super Bowl in his second year, Kaepernick fell out of favor with the team as he struggled with consistency.
Kaepernick’s skill set is a good fit for Chip Kelly, however, and there were rumors that Kelly was already looking to make Kaepernick his starting quarterback next year, even if he didn’t end up in San Francisco.
As he plotted potential moves & his next @NFL stop, Chip Kelly was trying to figure out how to trade for/sign Colin Kaepernick. No need now.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 14, 2016
While the rumors surrounding the San Francisco 49ers are swirling, the team may have already given a very big hint. The San Francisco Chronicle noticed on Thursday that the team pulled Kaepernick’s jersey off the discount rack, which would seem to imply that he’s back next year.
— SFGate (@SFGate) January 14, 2016
Colin Kaepernick could end up being just as important to reviving Chip Kelly’s career as Kelly appears to be to Kaepernick. Kelly lost his place in Philadelphia in large part to his quarterback play, as Nick Foles had a sharp fall-off after his sensational first season and Sam Bradford failed to stay healthy.
As USA Today writer Tom Pelissero noted, both Colin Kaepernick and Chip Kelly have a similar career arc, with a sharp rise and even sharper decline. But now Kelly has a chance to turn that around, as does Kaepernick.
He wrote the following.
“It wasn’t that long ago – about two years – that Kaepernick was helping the 49ers to a third consecutive NFC championship game, earning a contract extension, and Kelly was guiding the Eagles to a 10-6 record and a division title in his first year as an NFL coach.”
“Since then have come a string of disappointments for both men. But there’s no doubting either has talent. And considering the value of the relationship between quarterback and offensive play-caller, this sure looks like a match made somewhere other than the hell they just came out of.”
If the rumors are true, then the San Francisco 49ers could save themselves the trouble of searching for a new quarterback amid what appears to be slim pickings. Colin Kaepernick was considered one of the top available free agents had the 49ers let him go, and otherwise the team would have either been forced to mold Blaine Gabbert into a starter or tried their luck on one of the up-and-down veterans that might be available this year.
[Picture by Rich Schultz/Getty Images]