Three reasons it makes more sense for Kelly to stay with 49ers than leave


Three reasons it makes more sense for Kelly to stay with 49ers than leave

The Chip Kelly-Goes-Back-To-School story is a tribute to one thing and one thing only – the aching desire of some folks to talk about the San Francisco 49ers when there is clearly nothing to discuss.

I mean, he didn’t write any letters of support to Presidential candidates or anything, so we have no other he-should-stick-to-sports distractions to keep us from speculating without evidence. Or for that matter, logic.

So yes, file the latest round of Kelly-may-go-back-to-college yammerage to the age-old media hobby of feeding the beast who must always eat. And who are we to complain about a well-nourished beast?

Only in this case, the beast is being fed nothing but high-sugar snacks because there is no reason why this should be a thing, unless you happen to be committed to (a) blaming Kelly for this team and its performance, (b) allowing general manager Trent Baalke a human shield from his own culpability, (c) wanting Jed York to become the new most-impetuous owner in North American sport, or (d) continuing to be employed as Kelly’s real estate agent.

Of those four options, only (d) is an acceptable motive.

Now Kelly may go back to college, but only if Jed York’s annual scapegoat hunt leads him to Kelly’s office rather than Baalke’s. It’s as simple as that. It’s always been as simple as that. If he is fired, he will leave. That’s how being fired works.

Otherwise, he gains nothing by opting out. NFL jobs don’t come along often, and if he leaves of his own volition, he is unlikely to ever be asked to return. Nobody has offered a convincing reason why he would want that.

Rather, it makes far more sense that he would want to raise this sunken ship – a ship that was already on the ocean bed the day he got here. That is being forgotten in the Will-Chip-Skip scenario.

For one, he would stand to have greater power and influence on the football side if Baalke is the one to go.

For two, he would stand to have greater power and influence on the football side even in Baalke stayed in his present weakened state.

For three, York needs him every bit as much as he might need York, a marriage of convenience that Jim Tomsula could not arrange on his own behalf and that Jim Harbaugh didn’t bother to, since as it turns out, he needed York less than York needed him.

York, though, is a jumpy sort, and he might be convinced as the second half of the season goes from rescue mode to recovery mode that the 49ers are a good team that was simply coached badly, which given that he is the one who brought you all the other 49er coaches makes him 1-for-5 over nine seasons in that relatively important category.

It seems far likelier that he would rather turn in Baalke for the resale value, or even maintain the status quo than turn on Kelly after one year. But that would require that the questions being aimed at Kelly be more properly directed at the CEO, who has maintained his own posture of running silent and running deep.

So where are we at, beast-feeding-wise? Chip Kelly is a coach, and coaches work to be dismissed, and they can either deal with baseless speculation or they find a new gig. So the questions are not unfair.

They are, however, misdirected. The question is not, “Will Chip Kelly quit the 49ers?” but “Will the 49ers quit Chip Kelly?” The difference is crucial, even if it doesn’t feed the beast quite so well.

Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season


Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season

Frank Gore is returning home to, in all likelihood, finish his professional football career.

Gore, 34, signed a one-year contract to enter his 14th NFL season with his hometown Miami Dolphins, the team announced Friday.

Gore grew up in Coconut Grove, Florida, and attended Coral Gables High School before playing collegiately at the University of Miami.

He played the first 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers and is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. Gore ranks fifth in NFL history with 14,026 rushing yards – just 75 yards behind No. 4 Curtis Martin.

After rushing for 11,073 yards and 64 touchdowns with the 49ers, the club declined to offer him a multi-year contract following the 2014 season. Gore played the past three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Gore remains one of the most popular players in 49ers history. When asked recently if he would be willing to “retire” as a member of the 49ers after his final game, Gore reacted enthusiastically about the possibility.

1, Emmitt Smith 18,355
2, Walter Payton 16,726
3, Barry Sanders 15,269
4, Curtis Martin 14,101
5, Frank Gore 14,026

49ers increase competition for starting guard positions


49ers increase competition for starting guard positions

The 49ers are the fifth team to give Jonathan Cooper a chance after he arrived in the NFL as the No. 7 overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2013 draft.

Cooper, 28, caught the attention of the 49ers with his career-high 13 starts last season with the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers signed him to a one-year, $4.95 million contract this week.

“We signed him to compete for one of the guard spots as a starter,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday at Stanford's pro day. “He played very well in our minds for Dallas last year and kind of resurrected his career. He’s battled injuries, but we really like the way he played, and we think he’s a very good fit for what we do. So we were pleased to add him.”

The 49ers plan to take it slowly this offseason with Cooper, who underwent surgery after tearing the medial-collateral ligament in his left knee during the final game of the season. The 49ers report for the offseason program in mid-April.

The 49ers are certain to have at least two new starters on the offensive line. Former New York Giants center Weston Richburg was signed to replace Daniel Kilgore, who was subsequently traded to the Miami Dolphins. Brandon Fusco, who started 16 games at right guard, signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an unrestricted free agent.

Laken Tomlinson has a chance to hold onto a starting job. Acquired shortly before the start of the regular season in a trade from the Detroit Lions, Tomlinson quickly moved into the starting lineup at left guard and started the final 15 games. Tomlinson was a first-round draft pick of the Lions in 2015.

“Laken played very well the longer he was there,” Lynch said. “I think people forget with Laken, he came here in Week 1. He was kind of force-fed. We didn’t have many options. But we saw a guy get better throughout the season. He’ll get his opportunity.”

Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2016, spent last season on injured reserve due to an a knee injury sustained in training camp. The 49ers challenged Garnett to get in better physical condition. He has been cleared for football activity.

“Joshua Garnett has been working extremely hard, so he’ll be in that mix,” Lynch said. “He did a great job embracing the time he has last year to improve as a player. He remade his body and we're looking forward to see him get after it in the offseason.

“I think he’s excited about it. He’s feeling sexy, as he says.”

Erik Magnuson, 24, won a spot on the 49ers’ roster after signing as an undrafted rookie from Michigan. Magnuson could enter into the competition at guard. He displayed unique versatility in his first season, starting two games at right tackle before sustaining a season-ending foot injury. He can also serve as a backup center.

And, perhaps, the 49ers are not finished adding to the competition. The team owns the No. 9 overall selection, and Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson could be on the radar in the unlikely event he is not selected within the top eight picks.

When asked if the 49ers could also add another player to the mix with a draft pick, Lynch answered, “We’ll see. We’re always looking to get better there.”