The 49ers shocked everyone in the NFL draft when they hired Chip Kelly earlier this week. Kelly was let go in Philadelphia last month and it was thought he might go back to the college ranks where he had so much success with Oregon. Kelly wanted to be in control of picking the players for the Eagles and ultimately it led to his downfall when he couldn’t win and had lost the respect of the players and people in the organization.
By going to San Fransisco Kelly will get another shot to bring his high tempo offense to the NFL. It worked well in the PAC-12 but had mixed results for the Eagles.
The biggest question mark is how will this effect Niners QB Colin Kaepernick? It was thought that Kaepernick was on his way out of town after losing the starting job to Blaine Gabbert earlier this season. Kaepernick led San Fransisco to the Super Bowl in 2013 and the NFC Championship in 2014 but after Jim Harbaugh left for Michigan Kaepernick became a dead man walking. Kelly could breathe new life into the former starter and give him the confidence to get the team back to the playoffs. Everyone knows what kind of success he had with Marcus Mariota. With Kaepernick he may have found the missing piece to his offense he never had in Philadelphia.
Before the 49ers signed Kelly it was thought the team would try to draft a quarterback with the seventh pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Paxton Lynch or Jared Goff would probably be there at #7 and give the San Fransisco fans some optimism for the future. But it Kelly intends to roll with Kaepernick the team could focus on defense where they really need to rebuild.
The Niners are picking in the seventh spot and in our first mock draft we had San Fransisco morgaging the farm to move up to #1 to take Jared Goff. The Browns want a QB at #2 and if the 49ers want to make sure they get their guy they have to leap-frog Cleveland. If Kelly wants to give Kaepernick a shot and give him a year in his system the Niners may pick up Reggie Raglan, and inside linebacker from Alabama who could help up the middle where they were gashed in the running game last year. Robert Nkemdiche is a playmaker on the defensive line who can make a big difference defending the run. Last year at Ole Miss Nkemdiche blew up the offensive line and was subjected to double teams just about every week in the SEC.
Should San Fransisco not go for defense Kelly has shown that he likes big receivers who can block downfield. In 2014 he traded up to take Jordan Matthews from Vanderbilt. At 6’3 Matthews is a big receiver who can catch and also is a decent blocker. Laquon Treadwell is 6’2 and is considered the best receiver in the draft. If he falls to #7 the Niners would be crazy not to grab him. Michael Thomas is another big receiver similar to Matthews who could make an immediate impact. He can extend the field and give Kaepernick a legit deep threat to throw the ball to. Josh Doctson from TCU is 6’4 but a wrist injury last season could cause his stock to drop to late first round or early second.
Before the Niners hired Kelly it was cut and dry and just about everyone thought QB was the position of need in San Fransisco. Now the former Eagles coach can give Kaepernick one more shot and look to improve the team at other positions.