Chip Kelly’s play-calling sabotaged Colin Kaepernick’s return

This is about Colin Kaepernick, Chip Kelly and cognitive dissonance.

You’ve heard of cognitive dissonance. It means “mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs.”

In the case of the 49ers, there are two big existing beliefs — “Chip Kelly is a good coach,” and “Colin Kaepernick is a bad quarterback who played terribly against the Bills.”

If you believe those things, take an aspirin before reading further, because what I’m going to write will cause serious cognitive dissonance. This is your warning.

Click here to read the rest of my column.

This article has 174 Comments

  1. “Given Kaepernick’s history, Kelly was right to call passes that primarily traveled over the middle during the first half against the Bills. For a while, Kelly seemed like a good coach. Then, inexplicably, he reversed his game plan in the second half, and started calling passes that primarily traveled outside the numbers.”

    So much for your theory about the 49ers not making half time adjustments, huh?

    I take your point that good coaches put their players in a position to succeed. But if a player can only be successful passing over the middle, how long before teams just game plan the middle away from you? The QB needs to be able to pass outside the numbers too. The beauty of this piece is, if Kelly had continued to have Kaep focusing on the middle and the Bills had successfully adjusted in the second half, you’d just be lambasting Kelly as a bad coach that never makes adjustments, and ergo it still wasn’t Kaep’s fault.

    Not trying to defend Kelly here, but I think it is silly trying to suggest the offensive issues against the Bills had nothing to do with Kaep. Fact is, Kaep didn’t play well in the second half. He didn’t even play that well in the first half really – a complete and utter coverage breakdown and a shovel pass made his stats look decent.

    1. A quarterback can be successful only throwing over the middle. He still has 29 horizontal yards of field to work a variety of vertical layered patterns. And Kaepernick played very well in the first half considering he hadn’t started a real game in almost a year.

      1. If teams know they only need to really worry about passes over the middle, they will make those spaces very tight and leave guys 1-on-1 on the outside daring Kaep to throw out there. In fact, teams already have done that in the past quite successfully against Kaep.

        It is very difficult to be a successful QB if your throwing tree is limited. Doesn’t matter whether it is a limitation vertically or horizontally, it is hard (not impossible, but hard) to have sustained success. Gabbert can’t throw accurately beyond 10 yards past the LOS (well, beyond 5 yards really), thus he becomes easy to game plan against. Kaep can’t throw accurately outside the numbers, thus he becomes easy to game plan against.

        1. Most quarterbacks have a limited throwing tree. Joe Montana had a limited throwing tree. Good coaches emphasize the quarterback’s strengths and that’s the opposite of what Kelly did with Kaepernick in the second half.

          1. Joe Montana was still able to hit deep passes when the opportunities were presented, despite being primarily a short yardage, catch and run thrower. He didn’t have a big arm, but he was accurate.

            Tom Brady is a great example of a limited passer that the coaching staff has game planned around to allow him to continue to be successful. He’s one of the worst deep ball passers in the NFL atm. But the horizontal attack they use works perfectly with a QB that is as smart and accurate on short passes as he is. Like I said, it is hard, not impossible. But it does take the limited QB to be pretty special in what he does well.

            1. You’re right, Kaepernick is not as good as Montana or Brady. But you can win with Kaepernick if you maximize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses, as we’ve seen. Asking him to throw outside the numbers on more than 60 percent of his attempts during the second half is football idiocy.

          2. Joe Montana limitation was the long ball. But he also had the best WR in the history of the game who could run any route. A complimentary 2nd WR who also could run any route and beat any type of coverage. He also had a HOF tight end and a pretty good running back in Roger Craig.
            My point is when you have good talent around you, you can mask a QB’s limitations.
            This 49ers team led by Kelly has no such luxury!

            1. You may be too young to remember that when Bill Walsh finished 2-14 in his first year, he had miserable talent; yet, he finished 4th in the league in pass offense that year and may not have had QBs who were any where close to Gabbert and Kap.

              Remember Steve DeBerg and Scott Bull!!!!!! and they did not have good talent around those two guys, but Bill had creativity which Kelly does not!!!!

              1. Good post mike,

                Kelly relies on a hope that the defenders will not have enough time to sub in players and eventually get tired. That wouldn’t be a bad srategy if the rest of the league didn’t already know his tiny college style playbook.

                That coach from the New England Cheatriots made a career out of cheating to know what plays his opponents would run. It is a huge advantage.

                Even if Chip had a decent roster he would still be at a disadvantage because the enemy will know what play was coming and adjust accordingly.

                Kellys’ play calling isn’t just predictable, it is detectable by the formation he uses.

              2. The problems that the early Walsh 49ers had was not on the offensive end. They never had a problem putting points on the board. They did not start winning games until they improved their defense. The picked up Board and Hacksaw in free agency along with getting the best CB/S group in the draft in the history of the NFL. SF had really good offensive talent before they put it all together with the improved D. I remember telling my friends that when they picked up Board and Hacksaw that they were going to the Superbowl.

              3. Mike, I like your enthusiasm but I think we can all agree Bill Walsh was in a league of his own. If you’re going to use Bill Walsh (who’s WCO was literally leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the league) as a baseline, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

          3. Joe Montana was seven feet tall! … And if HE were here, he’d consume the Seahawks with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse…; > )

          4. I think Kap is on probation. I think the whole team is on probation. I think we will see 5 to 7 players get cut or traded after the break. I think the team in the off season, will rid itself of more players and staff as the team tries to right the ship.

      2. Grant, I am hoping you can clear something up for me?

        Before the 2000 NFL season, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick famously proclaimed that his team “could not win with 40 good players while the other team has 53”

        You’ve recently stated “the 49ers having a roster full of role-players and ACL injuries”

        My question to you is: Was Belichick wrong?

        Because you seem to want it both ways, no? On one hand, you believe the 49ers don’t have nearly enough talent compared to other teams, thanks in large part to GM Trent Baalke (and you’ve been recently making the point that, as bad as Blaine Gabbert is, he’s still better than Kaepernick), and on the other hand, you seem to be trying to convince everyone that Chip Kelly, who consistently spearheaded one of the top offenses in the league while coaching a more talented squad in Philly, is a bad coach.

        Sometimes I get the feeling you simply wet your finger and stick it in the air, and go where the wind is blowing. You do realize that when you take this approach, it comes across as disingenuous?

        1. 49, if you want to predict how Grant will drive his narrative, just remember this is a blog site, and he writes controversial stuff to get hits.

          However, he also can be very precise and accurate in his assessments, and leads the discussion with good insights.

  2. “Then, inexplicably, he reversed his game plan in the second half, and started calling passes that primarily traveled outside the numbers.”

    I with Scooter on this one. Re watching the game it seemed that Buffalo took away the middle in the second half and forced Kap to throw to the outside. I would like to hear from others who re watched the second half and see if you agree.

    Kap is a great athlete and a good enough qb to tease you into thinking there is more there than there really is. There is not. He is not a good qb.

    I am withholding judgement of Chip.

      1. No, they put a spy on Kaep in the first half, then took away the spy in the second half. To me, that is an adjustment, no matter what he said.

  3. Grant just has to double down on his idiotic theory that Chip is the problem. This is such a stupid article. Seem to recall plenty of routes run over the middle in the 2nd half after watching the All 22 tape. Kap chose to not go there with the ball not Chip. Again as I mentioned previously, Kelly has consistently schemed up ways to get mediocre skill players wide open for big plays and the QB (Gabbert and now Kap) has failed to hit them. They hit on those 3-4 big plays a game and this offense is putting up 25-30 a game.

    Chip is nowhere close to being the 49ers biggest problem but now that Grant has his “narrative” he’s going to try and push that garbage opinion from here on out.

    1. Well the first 5 games of the year they averaged 23.6 points per game…and then last week it was their lowest scoring effort…funny how that is

  4. I’m with Scooter & Senor Nomellini on their takes. The TD throw was an abomination. Missed opportunities to open receivers are hardly a coach’s fault. In the second half Colin fortunately tried wide since the midfield was clogged.

      1. Dude, so what!?! That’s not a significant element of the play. Smith had to be an acrobat to make the catch, and then made the over-committed because late Safety whiff on the tackle. It was a gimme TD by defensive brain fart, and he almost messed it up. And he was slow to recognize the blown coverage, because the punt he threw was released late.
        I think the book is still marginally out on Kelly, not on Colin.

              1. then why call patterns where the primary receivers are outside the numbers to the left regardless of depth????????

  5. I’m confused. Is the belief in football not take what the defense gives you? If the middle of the field is overloaded with defenders, why target that area?

    An NFL QB has to be able to make all the throws in this game or he is going to be one dimensional and one dimensional does not work in this game.

  6. From my understanding the Bills flat out said they had no fear of Kaep because he couldn’t throw the ball. That pretty much sums it up for me.

    1. Kap is very very limited as a qb. Asking Chip to hide his weaknesses is like asking Chip to hide Gabbert’s. A coach can only do so much. Eventually the opposition gets wise and that is Scooter’s point.

      Montana and Brady can make you pay for making the mistake of thinking they can’t make a throw. Grabbert and Kap cannot.

    1. Mine eyes have seen the glory of his simple bril’liance
      He is trampling out Grant’s blog where no one has a chance,
      He’s unsheathed the fateful lightening of His tiny pointy lance
      His truth is marching on.

      Glory! Glory! Seb’nynah!
      Glory! Glory! Seb’nynah!
      Glory! Glory! Seb’nynah!
      His truth is marching on.

      1. Trampling out Grant’s blog where no one has a chance? How so? Every one has a chance to write whatever they want.

        Unless you think they are afraid of me…..

        Or like you, who make up songs about me, which means I dominate your thoughts…..

    2. No, I was just mocking Prime because he said that Kaep took the league by storm.

      Kaep will do better next game, hopefully. Maybe Chip will accentuate his strengths.

      With this defense, Joe Montana himself could not win a game. Until they start tackling, just expect a high draft pick.

      Dont blame me for the coaching. They NEVER read my posts.

  7. This is actually refreshing information to know. have you passed this onto Chip Kelly himself or at least some form of of someone on the coaching staff?

  8. No one seems to be pointing out, including Grant, that the winds in Buffalo were swirling at 20+mph. The TD pass to Torrey, the missed TD opportunities to Draughn and Torrey all look like they were affected by the wind. In those conditions, balls that are not on a rope will be affected it. The fact is, we needed a run game in a game like that, Buffalo got that memo and executed, we did not.

      1. The effect the wind has on the ball depends on which way it is blowing. With a QB distance is a factor and that can be affected. Unless the wind is coming from the side it will not affect the accuracy ( although it might the distance if it is coming at you) . Now a QB has to throw harder into the wind and soften up with the wind. When the wind gusts and swerls it makes it harder to adjust. Now as Niner native mentioned the best way to deal with that is to throw hard. Remembering that his first throws were long ( throwing with the wind) and the throw to Smith short should speak to the wind playing a factor.

        Now Kaep seems to be have been even more inaccurate than usual this preseason and during camp. Rust, lack of reps, adjusting to new receivers etc. All those things might be factors. Now adding the wind conditions to all those other factors and it is not surprising that he would struggle with accuracy. Now a QB is supposed to be able to adapt to wind conditions which Kaep struggled with in the game. But perhaps that was expecting too much of him figuring all the other factors he was dealing with.. Lets wait to see how he does against the Bucs.

    1. That’s why everybody who wins in Buffalo either can run the rock or has a short passing game with the Flanker Drive and X Shallow Cross concepts; the Texas route to the RB, the multiple screen package; the Stick concepts; the Spacing Concepts; the play action package with check downs to the RBs between the numbers where the flight of the ball can be better controlled. It’s called GAME PLANNING!!!!! Not just running your system as a coach. You have to be able to adapt your system to the players as well as to the game conditions and the weather!!!!!!!

  9. From Jason LaCanfora today. Sorry if someone already posted this.

    “Kelly’s offense continues to be ridiculed by his peers in the NFL, and several coaches I spoke to expect him to hit the eject seat button after this season and return to college before his stock continues to drop given the horrible roster he has in San Francisco.
    “He just keeps running the same ? and it isn’t fooling anybody,” one NFL executive said. “Do you think they could bring him back to Oregon?”

      1. To a certain point I do, but I also know that he doesn’t have the horses.

        Name 1 player that Baalke has drafted since 2011 that has an impact.

          1. The 49ers had an identity with Harbaugh. Something in which to build off. Then the 2012 draft came and it crushed everything. Since then they have had a lot of misses and no one to develop the talent. It’s a roster that has like you said, no impact players.

            1. The foundation of those Harbaugh teams was built by McLoughan. Baalke had a good draft in 2011 and has torn it all down ever since.

              Dang, I sound like Houston or Coffee now ?

              1. Jack Hammer- Right! but in retrospect his top pick was a no brainer. And even then he left JJ Watts on the board when he picked Aldon.

          2. And that my friend is why this team is in the toilet.

            Kelly has his faults, but right now he’s trying to make chicken soup out of chicken poop.

            And to make matters worse, most of their top draft picks have gone to the D which is even more pathetic than the O.

    1. It looks his system was about to get a bunch of mediocore WRs open for potential big gains. It was the QB that couldn’t make the throw.
      His run game is sorely lacking. You have a potential top 5 back in the league, and a decent O-line.
      They shouldn’t even bother with the hurry-up. Just run his offense normally.

        1. No Hammer he is not nuts. Hyde is an Elite talent. His only problem is injuries which is a big problem. His skill set is very good. Hyde has zero to work with. His Oline can pass block but struggle to run block. His Wrs are garbage. His QBs right now are the worst in football. Hyde sadly is our only bright spot on Offense.

          1. I disagree with you Rebuid. What has Hyde shown that stipulates him as a good RB?
            I see a guy who’s injury prone. I also see a guy who’s undisciplined in his runs as when he needs to go inside he bounces it out and vice versa.
            He is unreliable in that his style of play almost guarantees injury. You cannot build an offense around him or rely on him as one, he will not be durable enough and two, can’t seem to carry the team or take over a game.
            It’s been 3 years now and he seems to be just another average back.
            I think the 49ers have to address this position in the draft with at least 2 picks.

            1. They need to add depth for sure at RB… There going to have a hard time beaten out a healthy Hyde(If Healthy) :)…. He has not been durable I agree with that Prime. He cannot deny his talent though…He is all we got!

              1. I don’t see anything special in him. He occasionally fumbles, not overly fast. Is big but tends to get hurt? What does he do well, I’m not seeing it?

              2. Hyde was a best player available pick. He, if I remember correctly was the top RB on most boards. He was still there because the Titans who was the only other team that wanted a RB went with someone else. Now the problems that Hyde is experiencing are the main reasons that RB’s have dropped so far down in the draft. Teams do not build an offense around RB;s anymore unless you have a Gore or a Peterson and they don’t show up that often. The RB’s shelf life is very short as well. Most end up injured or worn out after 4 years.

                I remember a poster on this board saying that picking Hyde was a mistake for precisely the reasons I mentioned. You can get good RB’s in free agency. Now that said I can understand why Baalke picked Hyde and you really can not fault him for it. But Hyde is injury prone and the team shouldn’t expect to rely on him as a building block. Niner fans have been spoiled. The odds of seeing another RB like Gore are slim.

          2. “Hyde is an Elite talent.”

            You said the same thing about Kaepernick all offseason, and you’re nuts too.

            He’s a #2 back.

              1. You also said that Gabbert wouldn’t be replaced by Kaep I told you he would. You said no way.. All off season long you have been pumping up Gabbert. How he fit Chips system so well etc… Guess what we were both wrong about the Niners this off season. I pumped up Kaep and you supported Gabbert. We were both pumping up Chip as well. We were flat out wrong cause this is a train wreck to put it nicely. Unfortunately until some major chsnges are done from the top, this is what we get…

          3. Hyde’s nowhere near elite. For starters, he lacks patience, which means that when he gets to the line and his holes aren’t there, he bounces it outside. If he had the patience of, say, David Johnson or Shady, 2 elite backs, he would then have the speed to exploit the open holes in front of him, but he doesn’t have elite balance, nor vision. On top of all that, he’s made of glass, which immediately takes him out of any conversation of being elite.

      1. Did we all not just watch a decade of a true elite RB? His patience, his grit, his vision, and footwork?
        Hyde is a solid backup. It’s sad but it’s the way it is.

    2. This shouldn’t be big news. Everyone knew, or should have known Kelly’s offense is simplistic in it’s scheme and play design. It’s effectiveness came in the fact he didn’t substitute and ran plays at a breakneck pace with athletic QB’s, RB’s and receivers. He depended on catching defenses out of position and tiring them out, and for the most part it has worked everywhere he’s been. There is no doubt he needed to keep tinkering and reacting as teams got to study it, but he has no chance to run the system he wants successfully with the lack of playmakers at his disposal.

    3. Kelly is too proud to go back to Oregon. Also, after the way he left when Phil Knight offered him the world, I doubt that Mr. Nike would let him come anywhere close to Eugene!

  10. Chip is not the coach you want him to be.
    He’s a systems coach who doesn’t much care about player strengths and weaknesses.
    He dials in the play and expects it will be executed.

    He succeeded in college because he had complete control of the recruiting process and had unquestioned authority in his program.

    It’s why he’s failing in the pros.

    Good Football people know that about him which is why nobody interviewed him except Baalke.

    Unfortunately, he’s not going anywhere because they have too much dead money going out the door on coaches already.

    1. BOY !

      There sure are a whole bunch of ‘Chip’ Kelly experts on here today….Add ’em up, and declare how many more HC W’s all of you together have coached than ‘Chip’….Isn’t that how you measure ‘expertise’…? more comic relief….

  11. Colin isn’t an NFL quarterback…he’s a disruptive force but not a ball distributor.

    He was effective with the 2 great Harbaugh teams because of the road grader offensive line, the multiple offensive weapons and the scary good defense.

    He had success as long as you didn’t ask him to be a good ball distributor. When they needed him to do it he failed which is why they lost in the SB in New Orleans and lost in Seattle the following year.

    He will fail on this team because the D is terrible and he has no offensive playmakers to distract the opposing D so he can be a disruptive force.

    Chip is not a good pro coach but that’s not even relevant. Neither Walsh, nor Shula, nor any other great coach could do much with this team because they have sub par talent across the board.

    This team will be terrible for years to come.

  12. Chip’s offense probably will not work well in the NFL. But if Kap can’t throw to the outside he is not a NFL QB.
    Comparing him to Montana is just stupid. Joe could not throw the deep out, that’s it. He could throw short and deep; see the 89 Eagle game and the 89 Super Bowl Also his wide outs for 81 and 84 where Freddy and Dwight not Jerry and John.
    Kap is not the answer

  13. Worrying about Kaep getting inside or outside throws is like deciding the deck chairs on the Titanic don’t look good piled up on the aft end of the ship.

  14. Stan, your making way too much sense, and Max thanks a lot your Titanic metaphor caused me to cough up my beer through my nose. Good night.

  15. Defenders have been given opportunities to sound off on the 49ers offense this season. When they have done so how many have taken that opportunity to sound off on the lousy and simplistic play calling? I’ve done a search and although I admit I am a terrible internet searcher I haven’t come across a single mention of a player calling out the play calling. I can’t find one player on a team we’ve faced this season mention after the game that they knew where the ball was going or what the play was. Again I can’t say it doesn’t exist because I really am terrible at searches but for now I haven’t seen one.

    When defenders have been given an opportunity to speak about why they were so successful against us they’ve all pointed to the same position. It wasn’t the same player but both players play the same position.

    Now I know Grant and all of his buddies like to sit in the press box and talk like they know better then the people that are actually employed by the league and come up with all sorts of theories as to whats actually wrong or right about the team. The thing is none of those guys know anymore about the game then any of us. Few of them ever even played the bloody sport but they think because they get to stand closer to the players them most of us that they somehow gleam and absorb all of their NFL experience and knowledge.

    Reasonable minded people that study film and have coached the game look at our situation and understand that the play calling is not the underline problem with this team. Is the play calling great? Maybe not but it’s not the reason we’re 1-5 and most reasonably intelligent people that follow the game can see that a team this devoid of talent can’t possibly execute plays at a level that can compete with most other NFL teams.

    1. To your point, is Hue Jackson a terrible play-caller because the Browns suck? If so, how was he able to be successful with the Bengals?

      I understand Kelly’s system isn’t overly complex, and yes it may indeed be part of the problem. But the quality of players on the team is most definitely the largest part of the problem.

        1. We do not need to read about players saying that, we see what happens on the field of play.

          Every team has been loading the box and daring the Niner QBs to beat them with their arms. They have shaped the Niners.

          In the Bills game, they started off by assigning a spy on Kaep. Kaep went 8 for 11. In the second half, they dropped more into coverage, did not spy, and did not worry that Kaep would beat them with his legs. They did make adjustments, and Kaep went 5 for 18, with 6 drops.

          Seems like they knew that the Niners would run Hyde to the side where the TE was lined up. That is a recipe for failure.

          I have stated many times in the previous weeks that Chip needs to be more unpredictable. Now that point has been widely discussed, and Grant is writing whole posts about it.

          How to be more unpredictable? Be more deceptive.

          When Chip talks about execution, the problem is that the Niners are getting executed. They are getting slaughtered, and it is a bloody massacre.

      1. Has anyone said it this year? Your references are when he was coaching a different team. You are only supporting what I said when you point out that players in the past have spoken out about his play calling but yet when players this year have been given the opportunity they haven’t said one thing about it. They instead choose to speak about our QB’s. We heard about the 49ers knowing the Rams plays earlier in the season but has there been any mention of players saying that they have known our plays? You can pull up all the past references you want but that doesn’t mean squat to this season unless people start saying the same thing and so far at least they haven’t. They’ve had plenty to say about our QB’s though.

  16. The failing offense is not on Chip. The run game is well established. We are tied for second in rushing TDs behind Dallas and 5th in rushing YPG. We are near the bottom in nearly every category in passing. We are 6th worst in team passer rating, 3rd worst in passing TDs, tied for 11th worst in sacks taken, tied for eighth worst in interceptions, 4th worst in passing YPG and tied last in completed passes of 20 yards or more. Chip didn’t have these QB problems in Philly because those QBs were a little more accurate than ours. In nearly every passing play, a player is getting wide open and our QBs are just not consistently accurate. They have had these problems throughout their entire careers and no other coach can make them any better.

  17. Really, Grant. This was Kap’s first start in almost a year…I’m sure Kelly didn’t want to throw too much at him. As it was, he gave Kap more of the playbook than Gabbert had. Don’t blame Coach for taking it easy on Kap his first start…it’s not like he’s had very much game experience under him. The other part you seem to miss is both the RB and receiving corps don’t strike fear in Niner opponents. Hyde had some nice runs, but aside from him, there’s not much to work with. Smith caught the one long TD pass, but much the same as Gabbert had to deal with, on a number of plays nobody was open. There were also way too many drops. So, your criticism of Kelly is misguided…he truly doesn’t have what he needs in skill position players.

  18. Start at the top and work your way down and you will find plenty of problem area’s on this team. Fixing one thing will not result in major W/L change. Last season the major problem was the O-line and that seems to have been fixed. The problem is that their seems to be no long term big picture plan in place. The emphasis is usually focused on a specific dire need.And it seems that dire need usually came about because that area was ignored dur to the focus being on another area. It’s a catch 22. It’s like fixing major leaks which keep you from doing preventive maintenance. This all falls on Baalke. He can not see the big picture because he is focused on detail. Because of that the boat now has multiple leaks which didn’t happen over night but were a result of long term neglect. Instead of doing maintenance when the boat had no leaks he spent his efforts making long term gambles that never paid off. Now there are too many leaks that need fixing.

  19. Grant,

    You ever considered the irony of Baalke using SO many draft picks on his defensive backfield? I mean, for a guy who seems to put absolutely no value on either the QB or WR positions, why does he invest so dearly in the one position on defensive group so specifically focused on stopping both?

    Strange. Ask around amongst your peers, yeah?

  20. Interesting article but a few things need to be clarified.
    1. Did Chip Kelly stop calling pass plays with route concepts in the middle of the field?
    2. Did Buffalo leave more defenders in the middle of the field?

    I had misgivings about Chip Kelly working with this defense to begin with. While many argued that Time of possession was overrated and that last years 49er team was almost equal to the niners. They failed to take into account how the niners were trying to slow the game down to help out the defense. The problem occurs when you have a defense that can’t get off the field and a break neck offense that can’t get a first down.

    To this end I see Chip has adapted… his offense is running much slower without huddling. This allows him to keep the defense from substituting and slow the game down. The problem is he has to get first downs and has to manufacture these with a severe mismatch in talent. Chip is essentially playing chess, but his queen and rooks have been replaced with pawns while his opponent has the full set.

  21. Must read for Kelly supporters. This gives more examples of teams knowing Chips’ plays beforehand based on his formation. The article was written before this season but if you read the whole thing, you will see an interesting quote from Chip. He says the only thing he’s done differently since his time in Philadelphia is “put a lot more sunscreen on.”

    Chip will never change because he is the smartest football coach of all time, at least in his own mind. The offensive woes will never be his fault. As Chip will say every week, It’s about execution not my college offense.

    1. I like Chris B Brown. He wrote the Art of Smart Football, which is just a take off from The Art of War.

      Succinct and spot on analysis, with many examples to back up his points.

      Maybe the problem is- Chip is not drinking enough Silicon Valley water.

      1. Chip is not drinking enough Silicon Valley water

        I thought it was the air? Creativity is one of the truest tests of intelligence, but it takes vision, determination and charisma for it to succeed. Chip Kelly was heralded as an offensive genius, so I’m not sure why he would need the air or water other than obvious reasons. A Smart person is book smart. An Intelligent person has the ability to improvise using that knowledge. Brilliance is a really smart person who’s mastered their craft, and is consistently impressive with their output. Genius is perhaps the intersection of all three. Chip Kelly is smart, but he’s far from being a genius….

        1. Some posters claim that they have more football knowledge in their farts than I do in my whole body.

          The problem is, they are breathing their farts, and think it makes them brilliant.

          Like some posters, who sniff up their rear ends, all it does is fill them with hot air.

  22. Good write up, Grant. Rocket and I were discussing the same short coming of Chip Kelly. A good coach knows how to adapt his system to that of his personnel, and Kelly is not a good NFL coach. Go to LSU, Chip!

          1. An Intelligent person, let alone a supposed genius, is able to improvise with what they have. I’ve yet to any real improvisation within his system….

              1. I think that Jack’s point is that improvising and getting the stink out of chicken poo are two different things.

        1. Sorry, but Peterson is too smart. He would not want to destroy his coaching career by coming to the Niners.

          He would take one look at Baalke, and run the other way.

            1. Ah, OK.

              ANY person would be better than Baalke. He is obviously a victim of the Peter Principle, where he is promoted to his level of incompetence.

    1. Razor,

      As I’ve said before, this is who Kelly is. He was hired with the understanding that the system he runs would be implemented here. He wasn’t hired to run a Jim Harbaugh offense. If the Niners wanted that they could have hired Roman back. They hired Kelly, and hiring Kelly meant a style of offense that needed speed, athleticism and depth at the skill positions. Knowing this, Baalke in his infinite wisdom, continued to ignore those positions until late in the draft and signed no one in FA. Now that it’s become painfully obvious that the players available to Kelly are not good enough to compete with, that somehow means it’s all the HC’s fault?

      If fans want to criticize the system and play calling then that’s fine, but most of you were completely on board when he was hired, and talked up his offensive prowess which was based on the same system he is running now.. To expect him to transform his thinking and system to a polar opposite mindset midstream is unrealistic. The biggest and most puzzling difference is the lack of tempo, but the plays are what he had success with in Philly and Oregon. The difference is the talent level is nowhere near what he had in those places. This type of offensive philosophy is reliant on being able to run plays at a frenetic pace without substitutions. It’s not about tricking defenses as much as it is winning the war of attrition and matchups based on the defense not being able to line up properly. This is who Chip Kelly is and has always been. If you were on board with him before, then the only complaint you have is the lack of tempo. Everything else is what he has always done.

      1. Rocket why then didn’t Kelly insinuate that he get some talent via free agency and the draft to make his system work?
        No coach should ever take a job in the NFL without having a guarantee that he can at least addrsss the skilled positions. This past draft by the 49ers does not show one piece of talent that fits Kelly’s system. Is he a yes man? Is Baalke that controlling?
        It just seems these guys are not on the same page in talent acquisition. It makes no sense unless Kelly thought he could come here and make something out of nothing!

        1. My guess is his desire to Coach and lack of options blinded him to the fact the roster was terrible. Whether he asked Baalke to draft certain positions or sign FA’s is another story. We don’t know whether he did or didn’t, but in taking the job, he agreed to Baalke having authority over the roster so he knew, or should have known what he was getting into.

          1. Or he knew that Gamble was going to be the successor if this season showed no promise.
            So many ways to speculate that the bottom line is we have no hope with these clowns running the show!

            1. I think there might be something to this Prime. I’ve mentioned ad nauseum in the past that Jed said that Kelly would be around a long time, but didn’t say the same about Baalke. Jed might have implied to Kelly that Baalke will go if the team sucks this year. The elevation of Gamble to Asst. GM is a confirmation for Kelly that the pieces will be in place for a smooth transition.

      2. Everything else is what he has always done.

        That’s the problem. Good coaches evolve and adapt to the talent they’re given. Kelly doesn’t do those things.

        1. The question is how much evolving and adapting can you do with a limited roster and being more than a 3rd into the season? It’s easy to say he needs to change some things, but the entire offseason and TC were spent teaching the system they now run, and unlike defense which relies more on athleticism and reaction, offensive success is completely driven by repetition and familiarity.

          The biggest problem I see, is that the Niners hired a HC who’s system was a complete 180 to what their roster was built for. Throw in the lack of skill position talent and I don’t know what Kelly can realistically do at this point.

          1. He’s running the exact same offense he ran in Philly. That’s unacceptable. You can’t just xerox your playbook and change the color scheme when you join a new team.

            1. Of course he is, and that’s the reason they hired him. That system has been the same for years and there is no reason the team or anyone else should have expected anything else. I’m sure he’s tweaked things over time and he obviously has changed his use of tempo, but his system is what it is. I’m repeating myself, but his offense isn’t based on schematics to fool the opposition. That is why it’s so puzzling to see him run a no huddle without consistent tempo.

              1. Walsh updated his system every year. Every system must evolve. Kelly’s doesn’t. He runs the exact same concepts he ran in Philly.

              2. Walsh’s offense didn’t change that much from year to year. There were core elements they relied on and then looked at how defenses were responding and made small changes in formations for the most part. That’s why as good as Walsh was there were some DC’s that gave him trouble because they knew how to play against it and had the players to match up.

                I agree and have said previously that Kelly needed to evolve, but he can only evolve within his philosophy and build on it. The system itself will not change. What will if he’s paying attention, is the alignment and formations he runs his plays out of.

      3. Nice post, Rocket. I too am puzzled with regards to why the tempo is relatively slow. That lack of tempo removes most of the advantage Chip’s offense has.

      4. Rocket

        Very well said….the temptation to rant and rave and scream “Bring back Singletary and Jimmy Ray!” are alive and well on the blog. I salute your patience (even though none of us has it). I believe that ‘Jed, Campbell, and ‘Chip’, have a plan in mind for the future, and are trying everything that they can to find out if some of the players are salvageable like Dres Anderson before Baalke trades him off for a high school cheerleader….again….well said….

  23. It’s inarguable that the 49ers have been bad in the 2nd half. The appearance is other teams make adjustments and the 49ers don’t have any answers. I think the answer isn’t that simplistic. It’s a combination of things from lack of talent, poor execution, poor play calling. It’s all of it. I’m not willing to write off Chip just yet. The 9ers routinely have wide open plays that they don’t hit. The offense gets good matchups and guys running wide open down the field. How many times did we see Gabbert miss a wide open player? I saw a field level camera view of a Hyde run against the Bills where the hole was obvious and directly in front of Hyde but he cut it outside right int5o traffic. That isn’t on coaching. That is on the players. So I think the article is about 50% correct. Also, I don’t care for the word “sabotage.” That word implies intentional action to undermine someone’s success. I highly doubt Chip intentionally undermined Kaepernick. I think a better way to make your point is to say if you want to point a finger at someone point it at Chip and not Kaepernick.

    1. Sorry, but I saw Hyde being run into the teeth of the defense, and where he ran was where the defenders anticipated he would be.

      They did not utilize him properly. They should line Hyde up deep in the I, and let him build up a head of steam before hitting the line of scrimmage. They did that with Gore, and he was allowed to pick the hole to run through. He also consistently gained a thousand yards each year.

      They also did not utilize the proper player to run the Zone read. The have sat DuJuan Harris, who has the quick hips to change direction, and who could have hit the hole that you saw.

      Give Davis the ball on 4th down? Before the last game last season, he had 24 yards in 25 carries.Why give it to a guy to get 1 yard when he got less than a yard rushing for 15 games?

      Of course, many times, there are times when receivers are open. Usually, though, the defense is reading where the QB is looking, and not worrying about players who he is not targeting.

      That is why I have been advocating for Kaep to face one way, while looking in another direction for years. Staring down the receiver just makes his job all that more difficult.

  24. I cannot argue with the analysis. Chip called a brilliant game in the first Quarter. I remember saying that to myself. I also felt Kap was playing well in the first half. It all disappeared in the second half. And if you chart the plays it supports Grant’s thesis.. The defense lost the game. Better play calling and execution would have made the game more competitive if that’s any consolation.

  25. It’s funny how all this comes out once Kap hits the field. What is it about this QB that makes people make excuses for him: Roman, O Line, injuries, time away, Chip Kelly. He’s had his time in the sun and like Chip Kelly, he’s been been figured out. Good post #80 on CK. That’s exactly why the Eagles fans were telling me that Kelly was a bad hire. I remember every writing what a genius he was and how he was going to make the qbs so much better. I was hopeful though not optimistic. We see the results.

    The personnel behind center is woefully bad and the skill positions are not helpful. That is a bad mix for the offense and the stats bear this out. No coach can overcome this. Kelly with his system least of all, but given the organizational reputation may have been the only named coach the organization could secure.

    That is why this organization has become a laughing stock. Thanks Yorks, stay classy!

    Who would ever think that the Singletary days were better! “Who’s got it better than us?”


    1. East, maybe your last question should have been answered- Jim Harbaugh.

      He actually made the 49ers relevant again.

      Long for the Singletary days? No. He had a talent laden squad, and had a bludgeoned look on his face. Chip at least has the excuse that this squad is devoid of talent.

      I long for the JH days.

      1. With Singletary we knew the squad was underperforming and had promise. Now we only can see the chasm that has been laid waste by poor management.

  26. Kelly, Kaep, Baalke, they all gotta go…. They’re all part of the high toxicity levels at 4949… Speaking of Baalke, I sure hope this guy is wrong… Otherwise there will be banners flying high and protests in the streets. #FaithfulLivesMatter

    1. Preaching to the choir, Red. I would take that report with a grain of salt, considering Guido said the same thing about JimmyTom. We all know how that ended….

    2. They want to trust Baalke to build this team into a contender?

      Players would rather retire than play for Baalke.

      The loss of leadership and talent was all because of how Baalke treats players. They were afraid they would get cut on the team bus.

      Baalke whiffed on an entire draft class. No bueno.

      Any decent FA has avoided the Niners like the plague because of Baalke.

      Having 45 mil in cap space just means that they have 45 mil less talent than other teams.

      Baalke’s ACL strategy is a huge failure, and you want to trust him with the draft?

      Baalke has stabbed the starting QB in the back so much, he is looking like a pincushion. Baalke went back on his word, and did not even try to retain veteran leadership.

      If Jed wants to keep Baalke, he does not want to win.

    1. Yeah I read that one and it was very good. I said the same things during the offseason – no that’s not to toot my own horn, just to state that these problems were evident going back to before the draft – when discussing the fact Baalke was using way too many picks on a limited number of positions.

      For a self proclaimed draft and development proponent, Baalke sure doesn’t give the team many options to do that at the skill positions. Instead it’s a continual emphasis on positions he feels comfortable with, and late round throw away picks on positions of need.

      If there is any truth to Cole’s report that the team is not going to fire him and believes he is the right man to rebuild the team, we are in for a long and painful stay at the bottom of the league.

      1. I can’t see how they can keep him when you look at the depth and play making ability on the roster.
        Never mind that, where is the potential and future capability on this roster?
        The Yorks must think the 49ers fan base is one of the most incompetent because we keep paying for this garbage they keep rolling out each year.
        All you season ticket holders and NFL Sunday ticket subscribers, stop feeding the Yorks your hard earned money!

        1. If there is any validity to the report, hopefully it’s just to give the perception of support to keep the wheels from completely falling off. They will anyway, and if the team finishes in the bottom three that perception will be shattered. I can’t see how there will be any justification for keeping Baalke if that happens.

          1. It’s clear that some players have already checked out or have yet to buy in. Firing a GM with 10 games to go will almost certainly end any motivation for these guys to play hard.
            The simple fact they might or might not have a new coach or GM will result in a luck lustre effort. It’s almost impossible to showcase yourself for a job with so many games left!

          2. I think that the report is wrong, just like others coming from the front office. I think he may be doomed. They’re trial ballooning would be my guess.

  27. Hmmmmm, according to the talking heads on NFL Insiders, know who has the second worst passer efficiency outside the numbers over the last two years?
    Aaron Rodgers
    I didn’t research that to verify.
    So, does McCarthy suck at play calling? Does A.Rog suck? His WRs?
    In his case the receivers deserve some blame, and this year his accuracy isn’t what it used to be, but it’s likely a complex combination of factors not easily extrapolated from one stat.

    1. The decline of Aaron Rodgers is the most puzzling story in the NFL imo. Started last year and has continued over to this season even though he now has his #1 WR back and the Oline has been better than last season.

  28. you know the opposing defense and their coordinators play the game too.

    Kaepernick almost was perfect in the first half. He completed 8 of 11 passes — 72.7 percent. And his passer rating was 144.1

    If I was a defensive coordinator and a QB was passing like that on me, primarily over the middle, I know I’d go out of my way to make sure he has to throw to the outside in the 2nd half.

  29. Word around the NFL locker rooms is Rogers brother met with a witch doctor in Jamaica during taping of the Bachelorette and had a spell put on him. Just out of curiosity, what is the percentage of run/pass when the Niners are in 2nd and ten, which is quite often. I’m guessing 100 percent run. Predictable. Boring. Rudimentary. Yaaaaaaaaaawn.

  30. Does anyone think that given Chip’s intelligence, he could just scrap his college offensive playbook and dedicate the offseason to studying the Patriots/Steelers and other successful systems, and become a real pro offensive HC?

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