Kelly needs another upset of Belichick to avoid tying 49ers' record

Kelly needs another upset of Belichick to avoid tying 49ers' record

SANTA CLARA – Chip Kelly lost only seven games in four seasons as Oregon head coach.

Last year, his Philadelphia Eagles had a three-game losing streak when his team went on the road to produce one of the big upsets of the NFL season, a 35-28 victory over the New England Patriots.

On Sunday, Kelly will require an even-more-unlikely happening against his old friend, Bill Belichick, to avoid matching the 49ers franchise record with a ninth consecutive loss.

Kelly and Belichick have a friendship that was forged more than a decade ago when Kelly was an assistant at New Hampshire. He would regularly visit Patriots training camp and practices as a guest.

“Chip’s a New England guy,” Belichick said this week on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “We go back a ways.

“We had a good opportunity to exchange some ideas and thoughts about a lot of things. I think Chip has a lot of great ideas. We'd talk about his overall organization, whether it’s offensive system, practice schedule, training, so forth. Ee talk about a lot of those things and I’ve learned a lot from him.”

Said Kelly, “When you get a chance to watch arguably one of the best coaches in the history of the game coach on a daily basis, how organized he is, how detailed he is, how in tune he is to putting his players in position to make plays and just really how gracious and nice he is. I don’t know if the media always sees that side of him, but (he is) extremely outgoing, smart, personable.”

Kelly had something to offer Belichick, too. Kelly had installed an up-tempo attack at New Hampsire that he took to Oregon and the NFL. Belichick is among the NFL coaches to draw on facets of that approach. Kelly has also been on the cutting edge of implementing sports science, with particular emphasis on recovery.

Belichick said he has taken plenty in the give-and-take relationship the coaches have enjoyed through the years.

“Absolutely, he had some great ideas that we’ve incorporated on a number of different levels -- some X’s and O’s but I’d say less that and more other things involved in the program,” Belichick said.

A year ago, Kelly’s Eagles had the upper hand against the Patriots. The game would ultimately be the highlight of Kelly’s final season in Philadelphia. The Eagles overcame a 14-0 deficit with 35 consecutive points, including return touchdowns on a blocked punt, interception and punt. Kelly was fired three weeks later.

Belichick said the 49ers are running much of the same offense as the Eagles did a year ago. The only difference, of course, is the players running the offense are different. Colin Kaepernick on Sunday will make his fifth start since replacing Blaine Gabbert as the starter.

“They produced some explosive plays the last couple of weeks, and that helped their offense,” Belichick said. “They attack the whole field. They do a good job of getting the ball inside, outside, catch-and-run plays, downfield plays. You have to defend every yard of the turf.”

Kelly would become the only coach in 49ers history with nine consecutive losses. Bill Walsh (1980), Steve Mariucci (1999) and Mike Nolan (2007) were at the helm for eight-game losing streaks. During the 49ers’ franchise-worst nine-game skid in 1978, Pete McCulley was fired and replaced by Fred O’Connor after the streak reached four games.

Jerry Rice supports Hall of Famers' cause but denies he's a board member


Jerry Rice supports Hall of Famers' cause but denies he's a board member

Former 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice was identified as a board member of a group of Pro Football Hall of Famers who are lobbying for health insurance and an annual salary for all Hall of Famers.

But Rice released a statement on Tuesday to clarify that he is not a board member.

The group threatened to boycott the annual induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, unless the demands are met. The letter was sent to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, players union executive director DeMaurice Smith and David Baker, the president of the Hall of Fame.

The 100th anniversary of the NFL will be celebrated at the induction ceremony in 2020.

Rice released the following statement:

"While I support any effort to improve health insurance and benefits to all current and retired NFL players, I am not part of a players’ Hall of Fame board of directors as referenced in a letter earlier today. We need to continue to have meaningful discussions about this issue with the League, the Union and the HOF, especially as we near a new collective bargaining agreement. I plan to support the Pro Football Hall of Fame and look forward to attending the 100th anniversary in 2020."

The letter identified Eric Dickerson as the chair of the Hall of Fame Board and listed the following as board members: Rice, Ronnie Lott, Marcus Allen, Mel Blount, Derrick Brooks, Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Richard Dent, Carl Ellard, Marshall Faulk, Mike Haynes, Rickey Jackson, Curtis Martin, Joe Namath, John Randle, Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Jackie Smith, Lawrence Taylor, Kurt Warner and Sarah White, wife of the late Reggie White.

The letter noted Goodell’s $40 million annual salary and the NFL's reported generated $14 billion in revenue in 2017.

“Meanwhile, many of us Hall of Fame players can’t walk and many can’t sleep at night,” the letter read. “More than a few of us don’t even know who or where we are. Our long careers left us especially vulnerable to the dangers of this violent sport, especially those intentionally hidden from us. Commissioner Goodell, there are better uses for that money.”


Brent Jones believes core of a 49ers playoff team already is in place


Brent Jones believes core of a 49ers playoff team already is in place

One season removed from nine consecutive losses to open the season, the 49ers may not be all that far from playoff contention, former tight end Brent Jones said.

“You talk about flipping it,” Jones said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “It just shows me that John (Lynch) and Kyle (Shanahan) have a good plan and understanding that it’s still about talent development and talent acquisition that go toward building a playoff and, potentially, a championship organization.

“It’s been a pretty quick turnaround from where we started the season last year.”

Jones said he believes the 49ers showed promise in the team’s first two games of the season – a loss at Minnesota and a home victory over Detroit -- but must exhibit more consistency and avoid injuries to place themselves in position to compete for a spot in the NFC playoffs.

“We have some players that are going to be part of the core going forward four, five, six years from now,” he said. “I think the more consistent we get, the more possibilities we have to be a consistent playoff team. I think it starts this year.”

Jones is not at all discouraged by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s up-and-down first two games. He described the 49ers’ acquisition of Garoppolo as similar to obtaining a “fully loaded computer” after coming over in a trade from New England, where he learned from quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick.

“A fully loaded computer doesn’t mean you don’t have a software update every now and then,” Jones said. “But a guy who trained under arguably the greatest, alongside Joe Montana, and one of the greatest coaches to ever coach, just your awareness and your analysis of the game and defense, all those things, is so much different than drafting a quarterback and developing him.”

Jones played 11 seasons at tight end for the 49ers. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame nominee who was selected to four Pro Bowls and played on three Super Bowl-winning teams.

He currently lives in Dallas and plays fantasy football. He has 49ers second-year tight end George Kittle on one of his teams, he said. Kittle leads the 49ers with seven receptions for 112 yards.

“I really do like George a lot,” Jones said. “He has really good route-running, smooth, nuanced receiving skills with the way he attacks routes and the way he catches the ball. With any young player, you’re looking for more consistency.

“He can explode and have six or seven catches and take it to the house from 60 yards, but he’s got to be able to focus and sometimes instead of getting up field, you got to look that ball into your hands and make the easy catches, as well as the tough ones. I think that just comes with playing time and consistency.”