by Mario Granata
It’s hard to think that the 49ers were in the Super Bowl in 2012, and to 49er fans, that has to seem like light years ago. With a new regime come new parts, as the Chip Kelly experiment failed in Philadelphia despite having a winning record. San Francisco has questions all over the board, and ones that aren’t just going to be answered with the 7th pick in the upcoming draft. Through all the memes and all the jokes about Kelly, the 49ers feel that they have the right man going into 2016 to turn a once storied franchise around in a tough and ever-changing NFC West.
Head Coach: Chip Kelly
Career Record: 26-21
Offensive Coordinator (Rank): Geep Chryst (New: Curtis Modkins)
31st YPG, 29th Pass, 21st Run
Defensive Coordinator (Rank): Eric Mangini (New: Jim O’Neil)
29th YPG, 27th Pass, 29th Rush
The 49ers took the Cleveland Browns approach to giving a head coach a job and only gave Jim Tomsula one year to turn around a car wreck that occurred on the west coast. Jim Harbaugh left, players left and retired unexpectedly, and their 100 million dollar quarterback wasn’t what they expected. Colin Kaepernick could only throw fastballs, Carlos Hyde got injured, Torrey Smith and the aging Anquan Boldin weren’t very productive and Vernon Davis was shipped off to Denver. That was just the offense. On the defensive side of the ball, Eric Mangini couldn’t bring a group of leftovers to the dinner table to eat, and as a result San Francisco sits where it is. Changes, not just on the coaching staff, have to be done, and done fast.
Heading the list of restructuring is QB Colin Kaepernick. Now, it seems that on paper, Kaepernick is just the quarterback to run Kelly’s offense. His feet make him extremely dangerous, and while he struggles with his touch at times, he can be an effective passer if given the right coaching. If the 49ers were in a different situation with their cap number, they would probably cut ties with Kaepernick seeing that he is due 15.8 million this season and the question of when they would cut him would be the real question. If they cut him pre-June 1st, they save an additional 8 million while taking a 7 million dollar dead money bomb, however, if they wait after June 1st, they save 13 million. This gives Kelly a small window to decide if Kaepernick can run his offense. Maybe Kelly should give him Mariota’s number. Details of his contract are below:
If the 49ers decide to keep Kaepernick, or look past his contract, they could look to restructure OLB Ahmad Brooks. Brooks is due over 18 million over the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and if that type of salary warrants his presence, even at age 31, they might want to extend him, but they will probably just let him play it out or convert some of his salary to bonus for cap purposes.
San Francisco is comfortably under the cap to a tune of 55 million, so they could resign players if they choose to do so, but when looking at the players that they have, it will be just because they don’t have anyone or the free agent market has dried up in a hurry. Given the track record of Kelly, players might be a little reluctant to come to San Francisco, so the two names to look out for this off-season will be Anquan Boldin and Reggie Bush.
Yes, Boldin is 35 and Bush is 30, but due to the fact that there is no solid tight end presence, and Boldin can be productive in that role of a possession receiver for a young quarterback (or Kaepernick) they might want to milk the last bit of football out of him and they certainly have the money to do so.
Bush is an interesting story because of the style of offense that Chip Kelly runs. He could fill that “Darren Sproles” role and be a back utilized on 3rd down if he chooses to use Bush that way. His offense isn’t predicated on a banger (which is what Hyde is) so the elusiveness of Bush, even at age 30, could come in handy for Kelly if he decides to pick him up.
Many of the pundits have the 49ers taking either WR Laquan Treadwell out of Ole Miss or OLB Miles Jack from UCLA. With the offensive minded Kelly, the edge might go to Treadwell, but with what happened in Philadelphia, he might not have as much say in the matter.
Treadwell has been compared to a DeAndre Hopkins type talent, and with the dumpster fire that was down in Houston, Hopkins still put up 111 receptions and 11 touchdowns. If Treadwell could be that type of player, it wouldn’t matter who was throwing him the ball, he could be effective, especially with Kelly.
Jack is a very interesting player to say the least. He has played on both sides of the ball and seems more like a tweener than anything else. Interestingly enough, he has been compared to NaVorro Bowman, and with the well-documented pain that Bowman is in, his shelf life might be in question. Newly appointed DC Jim O’Neil spent time with both Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine and with that type of tutelage and scheme, you need to have versatile linebackers, so expect Jack to get a look if he is still on the board.
55 million dollars can buy a lot of toys for Chip Kelly. He can go after pretty much any former Oregon Duck, uh, I mean, player that he wants, but once again, due to recent history his say in acquiring talent might be kept to the minimum.
WR Riley Cooper will NOT be picked up by the 49ers. Why you ask? Just because, that’s why. Why go back to that well? However, if the 49ers DO pick up Cooper, then you will have a good gauge on how much influence Kelly does have in the office.
WR Alshon Jeffery heads the list of wide receivers that the 49ers might target. Quinton Patton is the only receiver with downfield “take the top off the defense” speed, but hasn’t proven to be the player that the 49ers expected when they selected him out of Louisiana Tech.
As far as defensively, Kelly might rely on Jim O’Neil to use his influence on the teams he has coached with at the Jets and the Browns. S Tashaun Gipson from Cleveland heads the list of defenders that might be targeted. Von Miller would be the likely choice coming from a 3-4 defense, but no. Just no.
A Quick Guide to the Rookie Wage Scale (1st Round Breakdown)
On the Clock: 2015 San Francisco 49ers