Some outspoken, high-profile former players of Chip Kelly with the Philadelphia Eagles have questioned the simplicity of his offense and his people skills.
Quarterback Thad Lewis is certainly not one of those players. Upon signing a one-year contract Thursday to rejoin Kelly with the 49ers, Lewis spoke in positive terms about the coach and the person.
“The game is made to be easy, so it’s not for a coach to go out and make the game harder than what it needs to be,” Lewis said on a conference call with reporters. “You can talk about the simplicity of offense, it’s simple enough for the guys out there and do the things they need to do to the best of their abilities and play fast. That’s why it’s a fast-tempo offense.”
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Lewis added, “His people skills are great. He treats you like a professional. You come to work and do your job like you’re supposed to, and that’s how you’re treated.”
Lewis, 28, certainly has a lot of experience with different coaches in his four-year NFL career. The 49ers are his sixth different team after stints with the Rams, Browns, Bills, Texans and, last season, with the Philadelphia Eagles. Lewis joined the Eagles in Week 2 and did not see any action during the regular season.
Lewis showed enough promise last year to convince Kelly to bring him to the 49ers and join a quarterback depth chart that includes, at least at the moment, Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert and Dylan Thompson. Lewis will be vying for a spot on the team's 53-man roster.
“My role was to learn the system as well as quickly as I can because I was already behind the 8-ball coming in Week 2, and I did that,” Lewis said. “Obviously, I made an impression on him and he made an impression on me, because I kind of liked the offense and how he did things. I respect him as a coach. Obviously, I looked for that again when I had an opportunity to come to San Francisco.”
In seven career games, including five starts for Buffalo in 2013, Lewis has completed 60.8 percent of his pass attempts for 1,296 yards with five touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer rating of 81.4.
It's the only time Lewis has been in the same system in back-to-back years, he said, since his junior and senior seasons at Duke. Lewis said quick-thinking is an important element for a quarterback to master in Kelly’s offense.
“Any quarterback, you have to be knowledgeable about the game,” Lewis said. “You have to be able to see coverage, read coverage, and be able to identify the defense very fast in order to be successful, especially when you’re going tempo.”