Chip Kelly coyly admits 49ers practiced intentionally holding WRs to exploit rule book


Chip Kelly is a football mastermind. He’s one of the game’s greatest innovators regardless of his success, or lack thereof, in the NFL. On Sunday, he continued to go against the grain when it comes to traditional tendencies and decisions across the league.

With 8 seconds remaining in the first half against the New Orleans Saints, Kelly deployed a bold strategy that has rarely (if ever) been seen in the NFL. He seemingly had all of his defenders hold and tackle New Orleans’ receivers. It prevented Drew Brees from taking one last shot at the end zone because, well, none of his targets got more than a few yards past the line of scrimmage.

Brees was forced to throw the ball into the turf, stopping the clock with 4 seconds before halftime. The 49ers surrendered 5 yards on the holding penalty, but it just made the Saints’ field goal a bit easier while also preventing a possible touchdown.

Being the football savant that he is, Kelly suggested that it was all part of his ploy to exploit the rule book and save his team four points.

“We practice all sorts of scenarios at the end of the first half and the end of the game,” Kelly said after the game. “So we got flagged for a penalty there, which is a 5-yard penalty and then they kicked a field goal. They were (already) in field-goal range.

The 49ers still lost the game 41-23, but it was a smart call by Kelly. That’s not to say the Saints absolutely would have scored a touchdown, but San Francisco wasn’t going to let them take a shot at the end zone.

“There’s a lot of things that we practice in practice that cross our minds,” Kelly said.