Chip Kelly’s offenses with the Philadelphia Eagles ranked in the top-five in total yardage and scoring in his first two seasons.
Even while the Eagles dropped to 6-9 under Kelly last season before his firing, the Philadelphia offense ranked 13th in total offense and 13th in scoring.
When asked last week at the NFL owners meetings about the offensive talent he inherits with the 49ers, he did nothing to soften expectations for the 2016 season. The 49ers ranked 31st in total yards and 32nd in points per game. But to hear Kelly talk, it seems he has set the bar high for a dramatic improvement.
“There’s good depth there, without seeing them all run around physically,” Kelly said.
While it might be true that the 49ers have a lot of players -- and some with potential -- the 49ers are lacking individuals who have been productive in the NFL. Left tackle Joe Staley is the team's most-decorated offensive player. Newly added guard Zane Beadles is the only other offensive player who has been selected to a Pro Bowl (2012).
The 49ers will enter the offseason program with most starting spots on offense completely unsettled.
Running back Carlos Hyde, wide receiver Torrey Smith, Staley and Beadles are virtually assured starting jobs. Center Daniel Kilgore appears to be in good shape to reclaim his job.
Every starting and backup position, including quarterback, appears to be wide open.
“Obviously, you look at what Carlos Hyde can do,” Kelly said. “He’s one of the really good young running backs. There’s a bunch of guys at receiver, led by Torrey, and Torrey really has a skillset because he can run. He’s kind of a matchup problem for people."
The 49ers have shown no urgency in re-signing Anquan Boldin. The list of receivers on the roster includes Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington, Jerome Simpson, Eric Rogers, DeAndre Smelter and DeAndrew White.
“There are four quality tight ends that have played, so that will be a fun group to work with, in terms of how you disperse them and try to figure out what’s going on," Kelly said, referring to Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell. The 49ers do not have a fourth tight end who has caught a pass in the NFL. Busta Anderson and Je'Ron Hamm are the other tight ends on the roster.
The 49ers have lost starting offensive linemen Mike Iupati, Alex Boone and Anthony Davis the past two seasons. The 49ers drafted seven offensive linemen over the past four years. Four of those players – Marcus Martin, Brandon Thomas, Ian Silberman and Trent Brown -- remain with the organization to compete for spots.
The offensive line was considered one of the 49ers’ biggest weaknesses last season, but Kelly did not lead on that he is concerned with that unit. The 49ers replaced free-agent departure of Boone with the signing of Beadles.
“Obviously, the O-line, led by Joe Staley, there’s a lot of talent there, too,” Kelly said. “I think it’s a good group.”
Davis has guaranteed for months on social media that he plans to make a comeback this season. But with the 49ers’ offseason program set to begin on Monday, Davis has yet to officially file for reinstatement off the reserve/retired list.
The 49ers are not banking on Davis’ return or if he will be committed or in sufficient physical condition even if he does decide to attempt to play again.
With the 49ers’ new up-tempo offense, there will be new requirements from their offensive linemen. Kelly said Staley, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, is perfect for his system.
“Joe Staley is one of the most fit, athletic big people you ever want,” Kelly said. “I met Joe about a week ago. He came in. He fits perfect. It (the offense) fits to his skillset set. I’ve always been a big fan of big people. Somebody once told me, ‘Big people beat up little people.’ I think we fit philosophically.”