SANTA CLARA – San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly made his strongest statement, yet, about where he stands when it comes to seeking jobs elsewhere.
It is a view of commitment he said he learned from his father, E. Paul Kelly, who passed away on Friday at the age of 87. Kelly returned from his dad’s funeral in Portland, Maine, late Tuesday night.
Kelly held his typical Wednesday press briefing. Afterward, he went to the practice field, where numerous 49ers players greeted him with hugs. Just moments earlier, he guaranteed he will never leave a team while there are games remaining on the schedule.
“I will never leave my job for another job while a season is going on,” Kelly said. “I don’t think that’s fair. I didn’t do it when I was in college. I didn’t talk to anybody in the National Football League until after our bowl game was over.
“I will not leave a team with three games to go because I got a bigger, better deal. That’s not the way I’m wired. “
Kelly added, “It’s one thing I did learn from my dad. I have a commitment. They’ve made a commitment to me and I make a commitment to them. I’m not searching around and looking for other jobs while I have a job."
Despite stating multiple times in recent weeks he would not be returning to coach in the college ranks, Kelly’s name continued to surface in connection with the Oregon job. That possibility officially closed on Wednesday morning, as Oregon hired former South Florida coach Willie Taggart for the job.
Kelly’s father passed away on Friday night. Chip Kelly flew to the northeast to join his family, including his mother, who urged him to coach the 49ers’ game on Sunday in Chicago.
After the 49ers’ 26-6 loss to the Chicago Bears, Kelly returned to Maine to attend the services.
"I think you’re just really thankful for the time we had with him," Kelly said. "He lived a vibrant and long life, 87 years. He touched a lot of people in his life and it was evident to us yesterday when we had the funeral how many people came and expressed their condolences and reached out. He had a huge impact in his life. I think, it’s a difficult time. I think we all feel for my mom more than anything else, but it’s an opportunity to celebrate the times that we had with him and he was just a great man.”
Kelly described his dad as a “life-long learner” who had a “thirst for knowledge, an insatiable appetite for information.”
According to his obituary, which ran in the New Hampshire Union Leader, Paul Kelly taught the four Kelly rules to his kids at a young age:
Rule #1 - Have fun!
Rule #2 - Stick together!
Rule #3 - Love Mom!
Rule #4 -&%$*# Dad!
Chip Kelly has demonstrated a wry sense of humor during his first season with the 49ers. But he said he does not compare to his father.
"I don’t have any sense of humor compared to my dad," Kelly said. "I think he was special in that manner. He just had a zest for life. He was one of the happiest people you ever met.
The obituary also stated Paul Kelly was “a truly devoted San Francisco 49ers fan.”
“My dad’s loyal now," Chip Kelly said. "He knows where his son was. He actually got buried in 49ers gear. He did not want to wear a suit in the coffin. He wore a suit for his whole career as a trial lawyer, but he wanted to wear a 49ers sweat suit when he passed away.”