Chip Kelly, Pete Carroll differ on views of huddling up

Chip Kelly, Pete Carroll differ on views of huddling up

SANTA CLARA – The arrival of Chip Kelly as coach signaled the stoppage of one of football’s longest traditions with the 49ers.

Kelly sees no benefit in having his offense convene in a circle after every play to allow the quarterback to relay the play call to his 10 teammates. Instead, the players look to the sideline, where assistants Mick Lombardi and Crowley Hanlon signal in the plays.

When the 49ers wrap up the regular season on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium, the game will feature two coaches with entirely different views of the value of the huddle.

Kelly admitted his recent explanation as to what the 49ers lack by not huddling was laced with sarcasm: “You don’t get to go back 7 yards and hold hands together and say, ‘Ready, break,’ and then run back to the line of scrimmage.”

The benefits of no-huddling, as Kelly sees them, outweigh the positives of a little more face-to-face interaction among teammates. The 49ers can save several seconds by lining up on the ball. Then, they can scour the defense to make their pre-snap reads and adjust the play, if needed. It also can limit the capabilities of the defense to dial up exotic coverage or blitz packages.

Kelly believes his teams can play faster, if desired, and reduce the wasted motion of running back to the huddle between plays and, then, getting lined up. After all, the 40-second play clock does not allow much time for communication beyond the quarterback reciting the play call.

But Carroll evoked memories of 49ers Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Jerry Rice when asked about the advantages of all players on offense getting together after every snap.

“There’s a lot of players, historically, that have elevated other guys around them with those kind of connections,” Carroll said on a conference call this week with Bay Area reporters.

“You just go back to your old days of the 49ers when Joe was talking to Jerry when they’re breaking the huddle and he was reminding him of this and that. If Jerry was standing out there on the flank the whole time that conversation wouldn’t take place.”

The huddle appears to be on the endangered list throughout all levels of football. But Carroll said he is not likely to contribute to its demise.

“We’ve always talked about it,” Carroll said of implementing more of a no-huddle approach on offense. “We’re a little more old school, I guess.”

Kwon Alexander will fill Reuben Foster's void, John Lynch believes

Kwon Alexander will fill Reuben Foster's void, John Lynch believes

49ers general manager John Lynch acknowledged that he signed Kwon Alexander to fill the void left by former 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster, who was released last season. 

In an interview with 49ers.com, Lynch spoke about how he and his staff brought back several familiar faces to the linebackers room. He was also very frank about what the team lost in Foster as a player. 

“Let’s be honest,” Lynch said. “We had a void that we thought we had filled with Reuben Foster. Things transpired there. We had a void there and that stinks but you can’t just sit there and pout, you gotta say ‘OK, let’s do something.'

“We needed a dynamic football player at that position. It’s a very critical position in our scheme and this became the guy. Kwon became the guy that we wanted to be that guy.” 

Alexander has many of the same on-field characteristics as Foster. He’s known as a hard hitter who flies around the field, making players think twice about going across the middle. He may make some mistakes in the game, but his passion and heart are recognized by his teammates. 

“I think what stood out to us with Kwon,” Lynch said, “he’s a dynamic football player. He’s a tone setter. You need tone-setters on your defense. 

“I think he’s a guy that when you watch him, when you talk to people who played against him, people who played with him, he’s exactly that. His type of play running all over the field, hitting people, getting the ball, it’s contagious. We need that.” 

The 49ers' admiration for Alexander grew as they did more research on him. They understand it may take some time before he returns to 100 percent health.

[RELATED: Kwon Alexander overcame tragedy, adversity]

“The more we watched him the more we liked,” Lynch said. “We knew he was coming off an ACL injury but we got comfortable with the medical part and also got comfortable with 'Hey, we are going to wait as long as it takes.' This is a long-term investment. He’s doing very well in his rehab.” 

The staff ideally would like to see Alexander lined up next to Fred Warner, who had a stand-out rookie season. They also brought back Elijah Lee, special teams contributor Mark Nzeocha, and signed ex-Panther David Mayo to a two-year contract to fill out the linebackers room.

Top NFL draft prospect Josh Allen thinks he's best player available

Top NFL draft prospect Josh Allen thinks he's best player available

Josh Allen does not lack confidence.

The edge rusher out of Kentucky, who is linked to both the 49ers with the No. 2 pick and Raiders at No. 4 in next month's NFL draft, spoke highly of his abilities during his pro day Friday.

"You can just watch the film, watch the games," Allen told ESPN on Friday. "If you're talking about stats, I mean, I finished second in the nation in sacks, playing in the SEC, which doesn't throw the ball as much as other conferences.

"I'm physical. I played the whole season. I played every game. I'm healthy. I just think I'm the best edge rusher, the best pass rusher, the best overall player in this draft."

OK then.

Allen put up tremendous numbers in his senior season at Kentucky, totaling 17 sacks and 88 tackles, including 56 solo. The 49ers and Raiders both desperately need someone who can rush the quarterback, so Allen fits the mold for both teams.

Allen told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco that he has scheduled pre-draft meetings with both the 49ers and the Raiders.

The latest speculation is that the 49ers will draft Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa with the No. 2 pick, as the Cardinals -- who own the No. 1 pick -- have been heavily linked to Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. If both Bosa and Allen are available to the 49ers, GM John Lynch will have his pick of the two edge rushers.

[RELATED: Draft prospect Quinnen Williams dined with 49ers at IHOP]

The Raiders, meanwhile, have to wait until No. 4 to see if Allen is still available. If both the Cardinals and 49ers pass on the Kentucky standout, only the Jets at No. 3 would stand in their way of getting -- as Allen puts it -- "the best overall player in the draft."

Time will tell whether Allen lives up to his bold proclamation. But it seems as if the 49ers or Raiders would be lucky to find out.