The San Francisco 49ers have a new coach in Chip Kelly, and rumors are already pointing to a big move at quarterback.
There are some strong indications that the team is changing course on what to do with Colin Kaepernick, who once looked certain to be leaving the team. But at the same time, there is a chance that another Chip Kelly castoff may have a chance — Tim Tebow.
While the rest of the league seems soured on the inaccurate Tebow, Chip Kelly may be the one exception. Kelly made a surprise signing last spring, plucking Tebow out of free agency and giving him a chance to be the team’s backup.
There were rumors that Chip Kelly had big plans for Tebow last year, even though he had only an outside chance of becoming the starter. With Tebow’s incredible proficiency in short-yardage situations, sources close to the Eagles said that Kelly wanted to make him something of a two-point conversion specialist. That went up in smoke when owners opted against a proposal to move the two-point conversion up to the 1-yard line, but still Tebow looked impressive enough in training camp that many thought he would earn a spot.
On the Friday before final cuts, the Eagles traded Matt Barkley to the Arizona Cardinals, which appeared to clear the way for Tebow to make the team. But instead Tebow was among the final cuts for the Eagles.
Chip Kelly had a very honest assessment, saying that Tebow wasn’t good enough to make the team.
“I think Tim has really progressed, but we didn’t feel that he was good enough to be [among] the three [quarterbacks] right now,” Kelly said (via CSN Philly).
But Kelly also hinted that Tebow could have room to improve.
“He really improved his throwing motion from when he was throwing a couple of years ago,” Kelly said. “He worked extremely hard on it and he deserves a lot of credit for that. I talked a little to him when we released him and he just needs to get more playing time. He needs to get out there and get more reps. I think he’s done a ton on his own from an individual basis, but it’s about playing the game and taking that next step.”
The question remains on whether those reps could come under Kelly in his new post in San Francisco.
While there are not yet rumors connecting the San Francisco 49ers to Tim Tebow, it does appear that Kelly is setting the mold that Tebow would fit. There were reports that Kelly was already high on Colin Kaepernick, even before taking the 49ers job, and he likely has plans to make Kaepernick the starter again.
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
The team has already dropped some big hints on keeping Kaepernick, including a big clue from the merchandise department.
— SFGate (@SFGate) January 14, 2016
If the rumors are true and Colin Kaepernick ends up as the starter, then Tim Tebow could conceivably work as a backup. Though he doesn’t possess the accuracy of Kaepernick, he has roughly the same skill set including an ability to run the read option. If the 49ers did choose Tebow, it would give them a backup who could step in without having to change the offense.
If Chip Kelly turns around Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers still have a bargain https://t.co/1HNRvUisaq
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 14, 2016
Is it likely that Tim Tebow joins the San Francisco 49ers? That’s debatable. For one, there are no rumors yet connecting him to the team — but there were also no indications that Kelly was going to sign Tebow last year before the team made the announcement. So time will tell.
[Picture by Rich Schultz/Getty Images]