The reports come almost a year to the day Chip Kelly parted ways with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly replaced Jim Tomsula, who was fired after one 5-11 season in San Francisco. But the 49ers have since regressed to a 2-13 record, including a franchise-record streak of 13 straight losses.
Kelly has been dealing with controversy since before the season even started, as Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the national anthem blew up into a national debate. Kelly has been praised for his handling of the situation and the locker room, but the Niners’ struggles have persisted, even after Kaepernick reclaimed the starting quarterback job from Blaine Gabbert. The 49ers’ only victories have come against the Rams, and Kelly’s team dropped 13 straight games in between.
Baalke and Kaepernick reportedly had a strained relationship before the season started, due to the quarterback’s regression in 2015 and the $126 million contract Baalke gave him in 2014. Kaepernick and the 49ers eventually agreed to restructure his contract after he regained his starting job, making him a free agent after this season and giving 49ers ownership the opportunity to fully clean house.
The 49ers are poised to have one of the top picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, and they could want to pair a new QB with a new coach and GM — despite the fact Kelly has three years left on his contract and Baalke has two.
Can’t imagine the reason for firing Chip Kelly after 1 year, if reports are true. Barring a scandal we don’t know, classic panic move.
Kelly inherited a flawed roster and hasn’t had much opportunity to implement the kind of explosive offense he was known for at the University of Oregon. Kaepernick was considered an exciting option QB, but he wasn’t healthy when the season started and has struggled to regain his old form amid the losses and the national scrutiny of his activism.
When Oregon parted ways with coach Mark Helfrich, Kelly denied that he had any interest in coaching the Ducks or any other team, insisting that he’d never leave his job in the middle of the season. The Ducks went on to hire South Florida coach Willie Taggart.
Baalke not only gave Kaepernick the huge contract, he also feuded with Jim Harbaugh, leading the coach to depart for Michigan. Since then, the 49ers have gone 7-24.
Three teams already have fired their head coach and are looking for a new one: the Rams, Jaguars and Bills.