SANTA CLARA – Despite just one losing record in his first four seasons as an NFL head coach, Pete Carroll was fired twice.
More than a decade after being canned from the New England Patriots – and after a successful run at USC – Carroll began making the most of his third chance in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks.
The NFC West-champion Seahawks will finish the regular season on Sunday against the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers are 2-13, and Chip Kelly’s status for next season remains up in the air.
While Carroll declined to specifically discuss the 49ers’ situation, he said there is a lot of value for an organization to hold on to a good coach and not be so eager to start anew after every bad season.
“This is a very complex job. It does take time for guys to figure out how they’re going to organize their approach and how they communicate – the dialogue that’s extended to the players and the fans and the administration and all of that,” Carroll said Wednesday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.
“It takes time to develop all of that. You’re never as good in your first couple years as you are later on. There’s so much to be gained through the experience of it – how you handle your business, how you handle your players, how you handle your staff, the rigors of the season, the ups and downs, the ins and outs. There are so many things that go on. Coaches get way better as they’re doing it. So I do think patience is rewarded as guys grow through these jobs.”
Carroll was fired by the New York Jets after a 6-10 season in 1994. Then-owner Leon Hess said he did not have the time for patience. He died five years later at the age of 85.
After two seasons as 49ers defensive coordinator, Carroll got his second chance at an NFL head-coaching job in 1997 with the New England Patriots. After going 10-6, 9-7 and 8-8, Carroll was fired and ended up at USC.
“The appreciation for how complex this job is, is not well understood,” Carroll said. “And I don’t think you can really understand it until you’ve been in it and done it. Sometimes people act quickly and they get to do what they want to do because they’re the owners and they’re the ones pulling the strings. But we all get so much better at this as we work at it. I’m a pretty good indication of that, I think.”
Carroll said he believes Kelly is a good coach. Kelly built Oregon into a national power. After the Philadelphia Eagles went 10-6 in each of Kelly’s first two seasons, he was fired after his team dropped out of playoff contention last year with a 6-9 record. His first year with the 49ers has been a disaster, as the club set a franchise-record with a 13-game losing streak.
“He’s an extremely successful coach,” Carroll said. “He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s been at the top of the game when he’s had his opportunity. He’s shown it in the NFL and college and all of that. I don’t know him very well, but I’ve really admired the work he’s done and the innovations he’s brought to the game and the impact he’s had on it.”