BOCA RATON, Fla. – Chip Kelly on Wednesday spoke at length for the first time about the issues he had with the Philadelphia Eagles’ front office that ultimately led to his firing with one game remaining in his third season.
And he said he does not see a similar situation happening with the 49ers because of his trust in general manager Trent Baalke and organization’s personnel department.
“I think our personnel department is outstanding,” Kelly said at the NFL owners meetings. “Trent’s got such a good grasp on this league. He’s been in it so long. He’s got a great feel for how to put together a team.
“Three years ago, San Francisco was on the 5-yard line with a chance to win the Super Bowl. He’s proven he can acquire talent and put talent out on the field. And I’ve known Trent for a long time.”
Clearly, Kelly had no such trust in the Eagles’ top personnel man, Howie Roseman, whom Kelly said never watched practices. Moreover, Kelly said he did not see Roseman much nor did they have much direct communication.
“It was a weird situation,” Kelly said. "He was there for two years, then he wasn’t there for one year.
“I didn’t like the direction it was headed. I didn’t think we were on the same page.”
He expressed those concerns to owner Jeffrey Lurie, but he said he never asked for control over personnel decisions. He did not offer a solution, he said. But Kelly ended up with full power on the football side prior to the 2015 season. During that time, Roseman continued to negotiate contracts, Kelly said.
“I didn’t like the way it was, but I didn’t ask for anything. . . It wasn’t like I was walking out the door,” Kelly said. “I would’ve been content to just go hire a general manager.”
Kelly said he now has the kind of trust in the 49ers' organization structure that he did not experience with the Eagles. Kelly cited his faith in Baalke, director of college scouting Matt Malaspina, director of pro scouting Mike Williams and senior personnel executive Tom Gamble, whose firing from the Eagles in December 2014 only drove a deeper wedge between Kelly and the organization.
“Whenever you’re working with anybody, (trust) is a huge component in terms of how things work on a daily basis,” Kelly said. “Again, he’s (Baalke) got a proven track record. It’s not like trust without evidence. There’s a ton of evidence in terms of him being able to put together a really, really good football team.”
Baalke was named 2011 NFL Executive of the Year after nearly two years of running the personnel side, following general manager Scot McCloughan, who left just prior to the 2010 draft. But after three consecutive trips to the NFC Championship game, including one Super Bowl appearance, the 49ers slipped to 8-8 in Jim Harbaugh’s final season.
After losing the veteran nucleus of those playoff teams last offseason, the 49ers had to rely heavily on their young players last season in Jim Tomsula’s only season and finished in last place in the NFC West with a 5-11 record.