SANTA CLARA – Former 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.’s impact is still felt around the organization, according to coach Chip Kelly.
“He left an indelible impression on this organization,” Kelly said of DeBartolo, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Canton, Ohio.
“Not only did they win, but they won with class. I think it started with him. You just listen to the former players talk about him like Keena (Turner) and guys that are still around the building, Guy McIntyre and Tom Rathman, guys that knew him really, really well and how much reverence they have for him. So it obviously just speaks to the type of man he is.”
Those former players have current roles with the 49ers. Turner is the 49ers’ vice president of football affairs, McIntyre is director of alumni relations, and Rathman serves as Kelly’s running backs coach.
Kelly said he has never met DeBartolo, but he spoke to him after getting hired in January. Shortly, thereafter they spoke again when DeBartolo was announced as a Hall of Famer in San Francisco on the eve of Super Bowl 50.
“He was just congratulating me and was excited,” Kelly said. “At the same time, the following conversation, I think it was actually a week later, was me congratulating him.”